Lebanon’s Push to Draw in Residents

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LEBANON, MO — The City of Lebanon is offering a financial incentive to bring people into town to buy homes. 

After a 2016 housing study, the Lebanon found that they have a shortage of homes under $200,000. 

The town has over 400 vacant lots which could be developed.

Brian Thompson, of Lebanon Regional Economic Development Inc. says those vacancies can help fill the void.

“We found that we have a real need to have housing built here. For our workforce, we found that we have several hundred jobs available from our area employers. One way to attract people to town is to have the housing for them to live in,” says Thompson.

Thompson says in the mid 2000’s, a housing burst led to many lots being prepared, but the state of the economy halted progress.

“When things kinda had a pretty good downturn in 2007, 08, 09. Somewhere in that ball park. These lots were ready to go. They had all the utilities and different developments set up for them. They were ready to be utilized, but unfortunately times got tough,” says Thompson.

The City thinks that now is the time to pick up where things left off. 

This new incentive for potential homeowners waives development  fees, saving people a few thousand dollars.

There are about 430 lots that are ready to be developed. Lebanon’s Code Administrator Joe Berkich says some are empty lots sit near nice homes. 

Some lots already have homes on them that need to be demolished, like one that Berkich showed KOLR10. It has been abandoned for about 10 years. 

“The roof is gone, so this is a dangerous structure. We’ve condemned this house, and this is what we call a blighted house that’s going to be torn down and new housing put back up,” says Berkich. 

With the incentive being waived for development fees for construction, it will save about $2,500 per structure. 

“All they’ll have in it is the cost of demolition,”  says Berkich.

Not only does the city hope to get rid of abandoned homes and replace them with new ones, but so do neighbors who live around them, like Jack Shaffer.

“Kind of clean stuff up a little bit, it would be good for everyone. Good for the city to bring more people in. More jobs maybe, who knows?” says Shaffer.

There a few requirements for qualifying lots.

They needed to be 50 feet wide, have utilities connected, and the homes must be priced to be built on them at or below $200,000 dollars. 

The city hopes that in 2 years they can have 25 homes completed, and if things go well, Lebanon would love to expand it to do even more.

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