KC Home Builders official offers advice on city’s future
According to Tonganoxie City Administrator Mike Yanez, the city is on the brink of "explosive growth."
To help the city be better prepared to handle this expected growth, the city invited Tim Under-wood, of the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City, to talk about trends in the regional housing market.
Underwood talked at a special meeting held last week at city hall.
Underwood noted that in 2005, the average price of a new home in Leavenworth County was $210,000.
In Johnson County, it was $310,000.
That's one reason Johnson County is losing its market share of new home construction, Underwood said.
In 1999, Johnson County built 42 percent of new homes in the greater Kansas City area, compared to 30 percent in 2005.
The drop is because of the higher price of new homes in Johnson County, Underwood said.
"We're not able to provide a lot of housing choices at a variety of price points," Underwood said.
In contrast, Leavenworth County's share is growing.
In 1999, Leavenworth County accounted for 4 percent of new homes built, and in 2005, for 6 percent.
"We've seen some really good strong growth here in the Leavenworth County area," Underwood said. "Obviously the numbers are not the numbers you will see in Johnson County, but you can see a trend here and the trend is upwards."
Underwood said a challenge in the housing industry is building homes that are affordable to various incomes, particularly to working middle-class families.
And, he said it's important to keep watch on changing demographics. For instance, Underwood said, the first Baby Boomers are turning 60, and they may be planning to move into smaller homes, or multifamily units.
High-density development, which can include multifamily housing, can be a positive factor for surrounding property values, Underwood said.
"The key is, more than anything else, you have to be concerned about design, land plans," Underwood said. "If it's well executed, something that's good looking, has some pizazz to it, it can be a positive factor to the surrounding homes in the community."
Underwood showed pictures of mew multifamily housing that looked more like homes than the typical rectangular-shaped apartment complexes.
And Underwood suggested developers consider mixed-use areas. For instance, an outdoor shopping mall could be topped with second-floor residential units.
Underwood predicted that, at the current rate of development, the Kansas City area's development would expand by another 396 square miles in the next 30 years.
"To accommodate housing, commercial, retail and public uses and everything else, that's quite a bit of ground," Underwood said. "It's probably the size of Kansas City now, or close to it."
A key to slowing sprawl is to increase the density of housing.
"The average density now is about 2.5 units per acre," Underwood said.
"If we could take it up to three units per acre ... we could actually save 58 square miles between now and 2030. That 58 square miles is about the size of the city of San Francisco."
Underwood said now is the time for Tonganoxie to look out for its future.
"You have the opportunity to make some very dramatic changes," Underwood said.