The Greenfield Community Development Corporation (GCDC) received a verbal commitment from the city council Tuesday, Jan. 30 to spend time talking about how the two entities could join together to accomplish the building of a housing development for the community.
Both groups have long identified housing as a need for Greenfield, however locations for building homes is limited in the existing city limits and in neighboring places.
Development purchased an approximately 17-acre tract of land on the southwest side of town — across SW 2nd Street to the west of 21st Century Cooperative and the old railroad depot — but nothing has come of that land purchase.
GCDC President Scott Tonderum told the council at last week’s meeting that the development group has set a deadline of April, or other options will be considered for the land.
“We would like to continue moving forward seeing if we can do housing. We know it’s a need for the community. We’ve determined we cannot do it alone, we need partners. We would like the city to partner with us. We want to work on ways to make this financially possible to do,” Tonderum said. All types of housing are being discussed.
If a tax increment financing (TIF) district were formed as a financial tool to carry out this project, for instance, the city or another partnership would need to be acquired for GCDC.
Tonderum continued, saying the benefit of a housing development would be to the city.
“If we do a TIF district, tax dollars won’t be coming in for the first 10 to 15 years, but then they would. There’s no new housing district in town to build houses right now. The potential is there,” Tonderum said.
Getting infrastructure to a new housing development could present a challenge. Those obstacles are being thought about and worked through ahead of time.
Tonderum said no contractor would want to bid on such a development until it is drawn out. GCDC is only part way to that point right now.
Grant funds could be available, said Rita Eble, a council person with experience in housing development through her career.
Tonderum said that Greenfield Community Development Corporation knows there are people looking for a place to live here, but they can’t find a place to build a home.
“They’re commuting, and eventually they’re going to take a job somewhere else,” Tonderum said.
Tonderum explained it will take an entire team effort to pull off a housing project in a way that is sustainable and beneficial to the town.
“Let’s look into it to make sure we can do it. We can’t just sit here and talk about it and nothing gets done. I think it’s going to take some city staff, development people, utilities will have to be involved. There are a lot of things we’ll have to look at, and maybe we’ll determine it’s not feasible to do it,” Tonderum said. “I think we need to do our due diligence and we need to partner to do it.”
Some were concerned about the location of the plot of land — that it doesn’t have a good view or it is far from amenities like stores or the schools — but Chamber Main Street Executive Director Stacie Eshelman commented that developers have seen what GCDC has for a plot of land, and they say it is a “gem” of a property.
“The two downfalls we’re really struggling with is sewer and a road. That road is shared between the city and the county, so any upgrades to that would be split 50/50 with the city and the county,” Tonderum said.