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Decision paves way for new Kilgore housing project

By Glenn Evans
Aug. 21, 2012 at 10 p.m.

KILGORE - City Council members on Tuesday unloosed a potential snag in their agreement with a nonprofit partnership with home builders in a South-Central Kilgore neighborhood.

The unanimous action, during a rare noon meeting at city hall, paves the way for developers to start work on 83 housing units in the Remington Estates development.

At issue was street, water, sewer and other infrastructure work in the development near Chandler Elementary School.

The city in February agreed to pay for the infrastructure in Phase III of the development, believed to be the final phase of the affordable housing project that includes houses and town homes.

The city's expense was to be repaid through Kilgore's Community Development Corp., a nonprofit partnership that owns the roughly 24 acres.

However, the agreement between the city and Community Development Corp. included a repayment method that was inadequate when bids for the work came in about $200,000 higher than anticipated.

Miller Construction won the job with its low bid of $1.3 million.

However, the contract drawn up in the winter had the development corporation repaying the city as each lot sold, from a portion of the first 80 percent of lots sold - about 50 sites.

That method, combined with higher than expected costs, gummed up what had been envisioned as a smooth repayment scheme. The additional cost forced the development corporation to dip into reserves to meet the payment burden and threatened to delay the project.

"We could not give (Miller Construction) a notice to proceed until we worked it out with (Community Development Corp.) so that they could pay us back," said Director of Planning Carol Windham.

Under the amended agreement approved Tuesday, the development corporation will repay the city with sales of all lots, not just the first 80 percent; any money a lot might bring beyond its initial estimated selling price also can be used to repay the city.

City Manager Scott Sellers said the Community Development Corp. asked to dedicate more money from lot sales to the city debt, " ...until everything is paid back."

"Any unit sold over that minimum price will go back into repaying the city," Sellers said, adding the new setup is likely to get the city its money back faster.

"We just said, 'All proceeds go to the city,' " City Attorney Rob Schleier said. "This (new) agreement says the city is going to get 100 percent of the lots sold until we are repaid."

On Tuesday, owners of RADD investments, the principal contractor on the project, predicted swift sales once lots are ready for the market.

Co-owner Dennis Driskell said the company's recent experience in the Redbud Street area development indicated new homes are still a hot commodity in Kilgore.

"We just couldn't build them fast enough," Driskell said. "You could easily sell 20 lots a year (in Remington Estates)."



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