Public views plans for proposed condos

Thursday, December 6, 2007

On Nov. 29, around 100 Shell Knob community members gathered at the Central Crossing Senior Center in Shell Knob to view architectural drawings of condominiums that could be built near the senior center.

Jerry Arnold, Senior Center Corporation director, gave a slide presentation that walked the audience through the development of the condominium project.

"Two years ago we came to the community, and in a meeting like this one, we found out that the community wanted us to develop affordable housing in Shell Knob," said Arnold. "Shortly after that, we heard that the community wanted a permanent senior center. The board set out to accomplish these things."

After completing the Ozark Villas Apartments, which provide affordable rental housing for seniors, and the Shell Knob Senior Center, the community suggested the board consider building senior housing that would require no income restrictions.

"We were told at our last meeting that you wanted comfortable living with some amenities," said Arnold. "You also wanted the housing to be nice looking with a lot of grass areas."

Proposed units would include a refrigerator, dishwasher and stove. Each condo will also have a 200-square-foot concrete patio or deck on the back of the unit. Heat will be supplied to units through an electric heat pump.

"The units will have one common wall," said Arnold. "They will have a double garage for each unit. Each unit will be 1,400 square feet with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, a living area and a laundry area."

The condos will be positioned between 10 and 20 feet apart. The exterior of the units will be finished with brick and siding. All entrances and doorways will be handicap accessible.

The base price for each unit will be $175,000, which sets building costs at $125 per square foot. Units will be built as they are sold. The corporation plans to complete the housing project in phases, beginning with eight condominium units

Condo purchasers will be allowed to make some modifications to the unit. These options will be discussed with the contractor before the building process begins. Modifications will increase the total purchase price.

The Shell Knob Senior Center Corporation will require each condo purchaser to pay a 20 percent "good faith" fee when a purchase contract is signed. The remaining purchase price will be paid before the buyer takes ownership of the condominium. Buyers can choose financing from any loan agency.

"Why did you develop the units at one size and price range?" asked Ron Mueller, Shell Knob resident. "There are people who don't qualify for the affordable housing, but these units might also cost too much. It would be nice to see different sizes and different price ranges."

The corporation could consider building a smaller unit if two purchasers commit to buying smaller units, said Danny Street, who has been hired as the project developer.

When the corporation asked for feedback on the housing project, community members also stated that they wanted the units to be maintenance free, said Arnold.

"The condo owner will purchase the footprint that their condo is on," said Arnold. "The common areas around the condominiums will be governed by a homeowners' association and covenants, which are being developed now."

The current covenants require at least one person living in the condo to be 55 years of age or older. The covenants allow residents to have pets, but require all pets have required vaccinations and be kept on a leash when outside.

Each condo owner will be able to vote on decisions made by the homeowners' association. Additional covenants can be added in the future regarding how common areas are governed.

The homeowners' association will hire an individual or company to maintain the common areas. Water and wastewater for the units will be supplied through the existing senior center complex system.

Condo owners will be required to pay a water and sewer utility fee that will be around $50 per month per unit. Residents will also pay a homeowners' association fee that will cover costs associated with public lighting, maintenance and property management. The corporation anticipates that this fee will range between $75 and $100 per month for each unit.

The homeowners' association will also be required to pay real estate taxes on the common ground located around the condos. Each resident will be billed for the tax owned on their individual unit.

Shell Knob resident Ron Clark asked if a unit could be purchased now and subleased until the owner is ready to live in the unit.

A provision has been added to the homeowners' association covenants that allows owners to lease a unit for a year or more. The leasee must abide by all covenants established by the association.

Condominiums are the property of the owner and therefore can also be inherited by the unit owner's heirs or sold at any time.

If the project moves forward, the proposed 24 condominiums will be built on five acres of land located between the Central Crossing Senior Center and the Ozark Villas off of Highway YY in Shell Knob. John Waggoner has been hired as the project architect.

By developing the senior condominiums, the Shell Knob Senior Center Corporation would be able to sell a large portion of land that it owns and allow the organization to retire a large amount of debt. This would also decrease the corporation's fundraising needs.

According to Glen Phillips, Shell Knob Senior Center Corporation president, a committee meeting was scheduled to discuss the future of the project on Dec. 4.

"The committee will decide what direction we need to take the project in," said Phillips. "We will look at the results of the surveys (that we collected during the Nov. 29 meeting) and decide if we want to pursue the project on this level and price range or if we need to pull down to smaller units and a lower price range.

"Generally, we are hearing that many people would like to see the units at a little lower price range," said Phillips. "In order to accomplish that we will need to get the architect back in to redesign the project."

For more information on the senior housing project, call Phillips at 417-858-3632.

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