Study could spark boom in housing for MitchellA study on rental and single-family housing in Mitchell is nearing completion and is expected to start a burst of building in the city, according to a local development official.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
A study on rental and single-family housing in Mitchell is nearing completion and is expected to start a burst of building in the city, according to a local development official.
Mitchell Area Development Corp. Executive Director Bryan Hisel said the study has been in the works for a year. Business leaders have recognized the need for additional affordable housing, Hisel said. To make that happen, they need statistics and information that clearly show investing in rental housing and single-family homes is worthwhile, he said.
The Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce and the MADC staff did informal surveys on rental housing in March and August, he said. Both times, they found nothing available to rent in the city.
The Mitchell Area Development Corp. and some partners spent $26,400 on a study with a Minnesota firm. The Mitchell Housing Authority provided $5,000, the Mitchell Area Manufacturers Association kicked in $2,600, and the Parkston Development Corp. added another $2,000.
“In March, we decided we needed to do a very good housing study for Mitchell and the Mitchell region,” Hisel said. “The counties and cities around us are part of the solution. We are not an island. We’re trying to share in growth with the region.”
Hisel said the towns are “tied together” and depend on each other for economic development, recreation and other things. It’s high time they work together to solve problems, he said. J.D. Bormann, the president of the Parkston Development Corp., said he feels it was money well spent.
“It was a good opportunity for us to piggyback on their study,” said Bormann, the vice president of the Farmers State Bank in Parkston. He said while Parkston has lost about 200 people according to the 2010 census, there is “definitely” an increased demand for rental housing.
“It seems like we have a lot more people who want to rent,” Bormann said. New teachers and new hospital employees have sought places to live in town, he said. Bormann said they hope the study will offer some solutions.
“That’s just it; we don’t know what we need right now,” he said. Community Partners Research from Faribault, Minn., is doing the study. On its website, the company explains its history and its goals: “Our firm does not only conduct housing studies. We also assist communities with housing and community development projects and programs. We consider this background a strength.”
Hisel said the company has worked for Brookings and Aberdeen, among numerous other counties, cities and towns. “They face the same problems but at different times,” he said.
This study will encourage bankers, investors and builders to create more rental and single-family housing, Hisel said.
“It’s the confidence factor that creates more housing. Money flows to the best opportunity,” he said. “This is reliable information that developers, investors and the banking community can use.”
Once it is in their hands, he expects to see dirt flying soon afterward. “We just didn’t feel we could wait. This is the single biggest issue we’re facing right now,” Hisel said. “It’s just below the radar screen for most people.”
But he has heard enough from talking to people to believe it is a major concern. Mitchell Technical Institute President Greg Von Wald told the Mitchell school board Monday that students are having to live in area towns and car-pool to classes because of a lack of rental housing. Hisel said it’s an issue for many parts of the community.
“Part of this is coming from employers who are trying to find places for employees,” he said. “We kind of saw the iceberg floating, but it takes a while to get people to respond.”
In the same way parts of South Dakota are looking for workers while other areas in the country have high unemployment, some South Dakota cities and towns are facing a housing shortage while in many areas of the country, there is abundant available housing.
“The housing market is never in perfect balance,” Hisel said. He said once the report arrives in late September, it will be shared with builders, bankers and investors.
Community business leaders now have it on their “radar screen,” he said, and are taking steps to face the issue. But before the investors put millions into apartments and other rental units, they want some assurances. “We have folks standing by who are working on plans in our community,” Hisel said.
“They just need to have the study as a capstone to make sure building and lending will work out.” Hisel said this is the kind of work that the private sector should be involved in. “I do see this as a leadership, business leadership issue,” he said.