City makes way for affordable housing

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Grand Island is continuing to expand, and people can now expect to see a new affordable housing development in the area.

It'll be on the northeast part of town on a 23-acre lot at the end of 14th and 13th Streets.

The project proposes building 180 homes of various sizes that are expected to cost between $150,000 and $170,000.

Marlan Ferguson, the Grand Island city administrator, said there haven't been any developments in that area for awhile, and it's time the area had an upgrade.

"I think the issue, as it is almost all across Nebraska, is that we need affordable housing. And of course the question is, 'what is affordable?' In today's world, it costs a lot of money to build houses. It'll be a benefit to folks that come in," Ferguson said.

Members of the Grand Island City Council voted unanimously for the development, called the Orchard Subdivision project, at their meeting Tuesday.

The city granted a total of $6 million in tax increment financing for the project.

Some city council members are concerned about how the development will impact the public schools, especially Lincoln Elementary.

"Build that many houses in a certain area of town and it kind of floods the school district in terms of the kids. Obviously these are worker, employee type houses. Most of them will have families, and so it may increase the number of kids going to the schools," Ferguson said.

But Ferguson said he sees this as something positive for the school. He said having more students in a school can be beneficial, and the school will have to evaluate the situation when the time comes.

The developer estimates the development will take about nine years, but it could be less than that.

Ferguson said the developments will be beneficial for job growth, and will hopefully keep more people in Grand Island.