Archive for Thursday, June 28, 2007

Census estimates city growth steady

June 28, 2007

The latest estimates released from the U.S. Census Bureau show De Soto continuing the steady population growth it has experienced throughout the decade.

However, that steady increase likely will not be reflected when the bureau releases figures next June.

The latest figures, which show De Soto's population at 5,244, estimate the city's population on July 1, 2006. That date roughly coincides with the start of the current nationwide housing slowdown.

For a combination of factor, the slowdown has been particularly acute in De Soto, with only one housing start recorded in the first quarter of 2007. At the current rate, it appears the city will see considerably fewer housing starts than the 40 to 45 it has seen most years since the 2000 official census, which placed the city's population at 4,575.

De Soto building inspector Steve Chick said activity hasn't picked up in the past two months, although he does expect to see an upswing as the year progresses.

In addition to oversupply off new home inventory that has contributed to the national slowdown, De Soto is dealing with a shortage of new home lots. Several developments in past few months will soon change that, he said.

Streets and other infrastructure are now be constructed in the 23-home Oak Country 8 devlepoment approved last year, and two subdivisions off 87th Street -- the 32-home Brook Woods and 62-home Cherokee Woods -- have been approved.

Builders should start putting up homes in those developments late this year or early in 2008, Chick said.

In addition, several smaller subdivisions have been approved or are in the planning process for east De Soto for the kind of large-lot homes.

Ironically, the De Soto Economic Development Council annual quarterly meeting Wednesday featured Dave Holtwick of the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City and Frank Lenk, a economic forecaster with the Mid-America Regional Council.

De Soto City Administrator Pat Guilfolye said Holtwick attributed the continuing housing slump on a glut of inventory and a tightening of lending standards. The homebuilders association was telling its members to quit construction new speculative homes until more inventory was sold off, Holtwick told the audience.

Hotwick forecast the housing market would turnaround in 2008 or 2009, while Lenk said he already saw some signs of improvements and expected recovery next year, Guilfoyle said.

At issue were ongoing negotiations between City Administrator Pat Guilfoyle and JoAnn Thompson and her son Bill Thompson. Last month, the council instructed Guilfoyle to arrange an agreement with the mother and son team that would allow the completion of Prim Rose Drive through property on which the Thompsons hope to develop the first phase of the 62-home Cherokee Woods subdivision.

The completion of a 690-foot section of Prim Rose between its current dead ends in the Timber Lakes and Cedar Ridge subdivisions has been a condition of Cherokee Woods and Nate Harding's 32-home Brook Woods subdivision to the north.

As for Oak Country 8, the first permits for that 23-home development could be pulled this spring.

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