Chamber hears about possible housing expansions

Staff writer

Economic development director Clint Seibel compared Hillsboro’s housing and job market situation to the chicken and the egg Tuesday at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon. One has to precede the other to promote growth, but which one comes first?

Because of interest from two companies — Vintage Construction and J. Van Sickle and Company — the city could have new housing developments sooner rather than later.

J. Van Sickle owner Jason Van Sickle was supposed to speak at the chamber luncheon, but was unable to attend because of an illness in the family. City administrator Larry Paine spoke on Van Sickle’s behalf.

“What we know is still on the small side,” Paine said. “I’m just reporting.”

Paine showed luncheon guests what different apartment complex units could look like. He said Van Sickle was thinking of developing somewhere around 24 units.

After examining 200 towns, Van Sickle approached the city about beginning a housing development. Paine said Van Sickle, a former commercial appraiser, understands the real estate market and already has projects underway in Wellington, Newton, Valley Center, and Derby, to name a few.

Paine said the goal is to develop a sense of Hillsboro being a place where people could do business and be successful.

Vintage Construction owner Mark Cox attempted to expand housing in Hillsboro in 2013, but was refused because of issues with tax credits. Seibel said Cox still plans to invest in around five duplexes.

“We don’t know if either will make it, but you have to put the fishing line out in the water,” Seibel said. “Our town will never grow if we don’t have places for people to live.”

Chamber members also welcomed Dr. Greg Erb to the city as the newest family and sports medicine physician at Hillsboro Community Hospital. A Lawrence native, Erb played defensive back for the University of Kansas football team from 1996-1999.

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