Junction City, Kansas Transforms Distressed Properties into Affordable Workforce Housing Options Through a City Land Bank.

Junction City, Kansas Transforms Distressed Properties into Affordable Workforce Housing Options Through a City Land Bank. Main Photo

22 May 2023


Junction City, Kansas, is taking an innovative approach to increase the supply of entry-level homes available at affordable prices. They are using a land bank to do it. Land banks can significantly increase the number of cost-effective workforce housing options by acquiring and managing vacant or distressed properties. These properties can be rehabilitated or redeveloped to create new affordable housing units for the local workforce and prospective residents.

Starting in 2005, the City of Junction City was preparing for an influx of soldiers due to the proposed Big Red 1 build-up at Fort Riley. In anticipation, developers flocked to Junction City to develop new homes and subdivisions with publicly funded infrastructure. However, the troop expansion never materialized, and many developers went bankrupt — leaving Junction City, Kansas, with hundreds of vacant lots and associated infrastructure debts. 

With the Great Recession and the associated housing market collapse in 2008, other cities in Kansas began having similar problems resulting in underperforming housing developments and tax delinquencies. In 2009, the Kansas Legislature authorized cities to create land banks via an ordinance and counties to create them by resolution. 

Land Banks Provide An Innovative Approach To Building More Entry-Level Homes 

According to Freddie Mac researchers, the United States has a housing shortfall of 3.8 million units. The decreasing supply of entry-level homes exacerbates the long-term decline in the construction of single-family homes. 

Given the significant shortfall of affordable workforce housing in the United States, establishing the land bank in Junction City, Kansas, helps manage and reclaim distressed property to encourage the reuse or redevelopment of the property to create cost-effective housing solutions. 

Land banks are public authorities, or non-profit organizations created to acquire, hold, manage, and sometimes redevelop the property to return these properties to productive use to meet community goals. A land bank is typically established in areas with relatively low or declining housing costs and a sizable inventory of tax-delinquent properties that the community wants to repurpose to support community goals.

“I really believe the land bank was created to solve the problem with distressed properties,” said Coldwell Banker Patriot Realty owner Lance Custer. “It has served that purpose by helping the city increase housing options for prospective buyers and decrease the debt load from the initial development during the overexpansion in the mid 2000s.”

Junction City Land Bank Offers Incentives For Prospective Builders and Residents

The Junction City Land Bank has over 1,000 housing lots available with electric, water, and sewer infrastructure already in place. These lots sell for a flat non-negotiable rate of $5,000. 

Prospective residents and developers can purchase lot(s) and build cost-effective housing. With three different rebates available for lot purchases, these incentives offer prospective buyers the opportunity to benefit from building new homes on these lots.

“What started as a disaster and an overextension of city funds now has turned positive,” said City Manager Alan Dinkel. “We are probably the only community in the state with this many available lots. So when businesses and industries come here, we don’t have to build the infrastructure for subdivisions — all they have to do is build the house.”

A developer or prospective resident may obtain a rebate of $4,000 after building a home and obtaining the Certificate of Occupancy within one year (12 months) of closing. Within two years (24 months) of building your home, the Land Bank will give the buyer a rebate of $3,000. 

Buyers can only receive an Electric Utility Refund of up to $4,000 per lot if the buyer does not take advantage of the building incentive and the property does not have full utility servicing. Upon extension of full utility service to the lots, the buyer can get a rebate for up to $4,000 per lot, based on the actual cost of utility hookups.

Finally, developers and contractors can access exclusive prices of $2,500 per lot if they purchase five (5) or more lots from the Junction City Land Bank. 

The Junction City-Geary County Economic Development Commission (JC-GCEDC) Collaborates with Local Businesses to Provide Affordable Workforce Housing Options

Since the opening of the 140,00-square-foot manufacturing facility for Camso, a Michelin® Group Company, the JC-GCEDC has been committed to working with the team to use the Junction City Land Bank as a source for the low-cost-of-living housing for its workers. Other businesses can benefit from accessing the affordable land bank lots as an incentive for their workers. Working with the JC-GCEDC, companies can find attractive workforce housing solutions that continue to promote economic development in Junction City, Kansas. 

“It’s truly a pleasure to be able to work with the Michelin® team and Lance Custer from Coldwell Banker Patriot Realty to help get homes built on land bank lots,” said Economic Development Director Mickey Dean. “This is the kind of partnership that helps grow communities.”

Offers for land bank properties are submitted through a real estate agent, and the real estate agency and its agents do not make decisions about offer acceptance or rejection. Talk to your real estate agent for more information on land bank properties in Junction City, Kansas. View the available properties here.

Junction City-Geary County Economic Development Commission Can Assist 

For more direction or help connecting with resources, reach out to JC-GCEDC today. The region is growing, the economy is booming, and there is room for additional businesses to expand here. Our strategic location, paired with skilled labor and an actively pro-business climate, are assets for any company, but especially for our target industries. Explore our full array of tools for site selectors here and contact us at 785-762-1976 or edc@jcacc.org.
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