The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 13, 2013

Pittsburg contractor to build first home on city-owned block

By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
Globe Staff Writer

PITTSBURG, Kan. — A city-sponsored housing project several years in the making now has a name, its first contractor and a time frame for completion of the first home.

“We hope to break ground in two weeks and have our first home finished in three to four months,” said Bill Warlop, president of Home Center Construction, which is in the final phase of completing an agreement with the city of Pittsburg on the project.

To be called Lincoln Square, the completed project will consist of 10 homes on a city-owned block at 18th and Locust streets. It is the site of the former Lincoln Elementary School, which after being closed by the Pittsburg School District was transformed into the city’s largest day care, the Family Resource Center. After the center vacated the building in 2010, it was razed.

The City Commission discussed selling the block to a developer or using the block for a community storm shelter. It ultimately approved a request last fall by the city’s housing specialist, Deena Hallacy, to embark on a housing project for moderate-income residents.

Recognizing that such homes are needed in communities throughout the state, the Kansas Housing Resources Corp. was offering $2.3 million in funding. Last fall, Pittsburg was selected as one of eight cities to be awarded funding. Its $280,000 share is being used for Lincoln Square.

“It will cover relocation of the existing sewer line, putting in an alley, putting sewer and water lines to each home, and will help homeowners with closing costs to make the homes more affordable,” Hallacy said.

The low bid for the sewer relocation was approved Tuesday night by the City Commission, which awarded the contract to Jim Radell Construction for $48,000.

Warlop is one of six contractors who expressed an interest in building at the site. He plans a 1,200-square-foot cottage-style home with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a purchase price of $120,000 to $125,000.

It will include a rear-access garage and a storm safe room. It is required to meet energy efficiency guidelines and will have a disabled-accessible entrance.

“This really helps local contractors and builders, helps us keep guys working because it’s slow,” Warlop said.

“It certainly addresses the housing need,” said Commissioner Patrick O’Bryan. “This is a blueprint for how we should be addressing other areas, perhaps that are blighted.”

He suggested that the city use the project as a model for the future, perhaps purchasing a half-block or a block of homes that should be demolished, and then rebuilding them.

Income guidelines

The homes are for those who have an annual income between 60 and 150 percent of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s state median income guidelines. For a two-person family, that would mean an annual income between $22,195 and $55,488. For a four-person family, it would mean an income of $32,640 to $81,600.