Lexington city council considers housing development plan for St. Ann’s property

Prairie Fire Development’s plan includes the City of Lexington extending east 5th, 6th and 7th Streets to incorporate a housing development which would include 25 rental duplex units.

LEXINGTON — A Kansas based development group interested in building a housing development on St. Ann’s property near Taft St. presented their plan to the Lexington City Council on Tuesday.

Prairie Fire Development Group was formed in 2012 by Kelly Hrabe, development and Rudy Manes, construction. Their primary focus for developments is multi-family, workforce, senior and historic renovation projects.

Jared Nook, owner representative and principal in development and construction presented the development plan for the St. Ann’s property.

“We have seen tremendous need,” Nook said of need for housing in the Midwest areas they have built in, “with a thriving workforce, the need comes for high quality housing.”

Their work extends to Baster Springs, Kan., Moundridge, Kan., McPherson, Kan., South Hutchison, Kan., Ottawa, Kan., Kansas City, Kan., Kansas City, Mo., Newton, Kan., York, Red Oak, Iowa and Harlan, Iowa.

Prairie Fire has pending proposals in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Colorado and New Mexico.

The proposed site plan would be an extension of 5th, 6th and 7th Streets, on the east side of Taft St.

The project would include 25 duplex units, each would be three bedroom, two full bathrooms, a single car garage and open living, dining and kitchen areas. They would also feature high energy efficiency HVAC appliances, washer/dryer hookups and approximately 1,360 feet of living space, Nook said.

Mayor John Fagot asked about the buildings and rooms being handicap accessible. Nook said the space is an open design, with the kitchen being an L shape. In the bathrooms, the tub is offset from the toilet allowing more space to move around. Nook described the room as “very generous.”

The area of the development would also feature a playground and a central clubhouse for community events.

Nook said Prairie Fire seeks to make their building sites “feel more like a neighborhood.” They vary color schemes and elevations of homes to make them stand out and feel more unique than other developments, he said. A front porch is also purposefully added to the design to help foster a sense of community.

The timeline for this housing develop first rests on Prairie Fire securing a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit from the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority, NIFA. Once this has been secured, the infrastructure agreement with the city of Lexington will kick in.

City Manager Joe Pepplitsch said the city would be responsible for extending 5th, 6th and 7th Streets along with water, electric and sanitary and storm sewers.

“We would provide necessary local assistance,” Pepplitsch said, “We are giving them reassurance we are standing behind them and will play our part.”

Nook said construction is a 12 to 16 month process, if the weather cooperates. Prairie Fire opens up their buildings in phases and will start getting people into their buildings as they open. He said hopefully they could start getting people in 9 to 10 months out, contingent on the NIFA award and the weather.

The duplexes will be open for rent, prices have yet to be determined. The city council approved the development agreement with Prairie Fire.

The city council then looked into the opportunity to construct a 60kW solar facility and carport behind Lexington city hall.

Pepplitsch said the solar array would serve city hall and the Grand Generation Center, the arrary needs to be built on something other than the roofs of city hall and the GGC because those are not suited for it.

To build it the city would enter into an agreement with a third party, S&R Diamond, LLC. S&R would operate the facility for a full five calendar years, with the city able to purchase the facility at the end of the term. Lease payments would start the next calendar year.

Over 25 years, the city could see a $150,000 benefit from the facility and this would improve car storage for the city itself.

Construction would begin around March 2020, and being finished mid-2020. Pepplitsch said after the meeting the facility would be similar to solar array carports built in the desert southwest of the United States. The least agreement was approved by the council.

With The Holiday Inn Express and Suites in Lexington changing hands, a new liquor license was brought before the city council.

Sanket Chaudhari, with Lexington Hospitality LLC, based out of York, doing business as the Holiday Inn Express, appeared before the council members.

Chaudhari said there have been no staffing changes, but they have extended the area where liquor is allowed into the breakfast room of the hotel a 120 by 75 foot space, “to be on the safe side,” he said.

Mayor Fagot said he had spoken with Lexington Police Department Chief Tracy Wolf who said there were no problems with the application. Fagot, speaking to Chaudhari said, “Welcome to town and good luck.” The council approved the liquor license.

The next item was a project which the city has been contemplating for several years.

These were water system improvements on Cattleman Drive, W. 13th St. and Airport Road.

The improvements at Cattleman Drive involve placing a new 12 inch water main along Cattleman from Plum Creek Parkway to Adams St. This would help tie in several other water facilities. Pepplitsch described the project as being, “important in the long term.”

The next area is a section of water pipe on 13th St. between Park St. and Adams St., between Lexington High School and Plum Creek Park.

In this area the water main bottlenecks from 12 inches, to four inches, Pepplitsch said this is not sufficient for moving water across the community. The improvement would upgrade this area up to 12 inches to improve water flow.

The last area would extend 12 inch water lines from the Jim Kelly Airport access road on Airport Road and extend it north to 20th St. This would help the water supply on the west edge of the community, Pepplitsch said.

A fourth project would be the construction of Well 19 in town.

Pepplitsch said the estimates for the projects are “high level,” and the final totals are likely to be different.

In total the projects would cost around $1,207,050. Pepplitsch said the city could take on these projects because they have recently paid off debt in this area. The city would issue revenue bonds for the project and bids could be solicited as early as spring 2020. The council approved the water improvements.

A fifth pay request submitted by TL Sund Constructors for the Workforce Training Space at the Dawson County Opportunity Center, $65,648.11 was the amount of the request.

Pepplitsch said the project is close to being finished, the last touches are being done to the area it should be fully operational after Nov. 28, Thanksgiving.

“It seems to be in pretty good shape,” Pepplitsch said, “it’s pretty amazing to walk through the dock space now. Things are looking up.”

The council approved the pay request.

The last businesses concerned an appointment to the Community Development Agency.

Chris Denker would be joining the CDA, he will be moving over from the Planning Commission, which will leave a vacancy on that board which will need to be filled. The council approved the appointment.

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