Once a community decides to pursue new housing, the natural next question is, “Where?”
“That depends on the community and the type of tenant,” according to Margot Gillette, executive director of Beadle and Spink Enterprise Community.
In and around small towns, land isn’t always advertised as “for sale,” but Gillette said that doesn’t always mean it’s not.
“It’s a lot of relationship-building,” she said, encouraging developers to be ready to share their community improvement visions with landowners—explaining how the land could be part of the greater good of improving the community, may change the mind of even a reluctant seller.
“The biggest roadblock is communication,” agreed Lisa Gogolin, president of the Cavour (S.D.) Town Board, and a volunteer with the community’s development group. “There are tons of lots—we just need to get ahold of them.”
A landowner in Cavour wants to gift a mobile home park to the Cavour Development Group, who then will turn the park’s five small lots into two or three bigger ones for new home construction. Three people own trailer homes in the court. One has abandoned the property, one is planning to move, and another so far has not responded to the request to discuss the idea.
Focusing on infill
Iroquois, S.D., has successfully found locations for “infill” housing—adding new housing within existing neighborhoods. About 15 years ago, with $45,000 in hand from the sale of its two apartment buildings, Iroquois Housing, Inc. began cleaning up dilapidated houses around town.
“If the lots were big enough, we put a house on it,” said Darrell Moffitt, longtime Iroquois Housing Board member. “We asked $3,500 each, and all the lots sold right away.”
The group turned its money over, one project at a time, building a few spec homes and bringing in several Governor’s Houses. Eleven houses later, the change around town is noticeable.
Iroquois is also home to a new housing development on the northern edge of town. The school offered Iroquois Housing a 7-acre plot formerly used as a football field. The group faced a significant bill to bring water and sewer to the site, but went ahead with utility work and mapped out seven parcels for single-family homes.