Archive for Thursday, January 17, 2008

Housing slump could be blessing

January 17, 2008

Housing starts in Eudora, which had been humming along in the earlier years of this decade at nearly 100 annually, slowed to a mere nine in 2007.

That number can be attributed in part to the national slowdown in which housing starts have been at their lowest since 1991. Higher energy costs, tighter credit policies because of bad loan practices and a glut of new homes on the market as builders sought to take advantage of what had been a boom market all contributed to the slow down. There are undoubtedly local factors in play in Eudora as well, such as a temporary lack of available lots as plotted subdivisions fill.

Even with the 150-lot Meadowlark III on tap for development, it may be some time before Eudora sees the level of growth experienced a few years back with a possible recession on the horizon, energy costs still unsettled and inventory remaining high in the region.

That's not necessarily a bad thing for Eudora. It will give the city time to move ahead with a number of infrastructure projects needed to sustain further growth. It will mean less enrollment pressure on already crowded classrooms as the school district embarks on its new building program and will very likely allow the district to take advantage of lower construction bids as contractors become hungrier for work.

Finally, the slowdown will give the community time for further planning. Much needs to be done with city streets, services and relationships with neighboring jurisdictions so that Eudora is prepared for the next boom. Coincidently, the Visioning 20/30 community planning effort has started in the slump's depths.

Eudora is bound to shrug off the current housing doldrums as the assets that made it such an attractive place for development in the early 2000s still exist. It's astride a four-land highway between two vibrant communities and could soon be on or very near a north-south traffic link. The best use of the current respite could be much to make the city affordable and livable when housing development booms once again.

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