Affordable Housing for Topeka Neighborhood

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TOPEKA, Kan. - A long-vacant plot of Topeka land is one step closer to becoming home to an apartment and town home development.

The Topeka Planning Commission approved 5-2 Pioneer Group, Inc.'s proposal for it Monday night, but it's a decision many surrounding neighbors aren't happy about.

The Pioneer Adams II development is planned to be built near 21st and Adams, on the south side of Adams. Pioneer Adams was completed in the fall of 2008 on the north side of the street.

Pioneer Adams II would include 49 units of affordable housing: 20 one and two bedroom apartments; and 29 three bedroom townhomes with garages.

People who live in the area brought a few concerns to Monday's planning commission meeting, including concern that crime rates will increase and water will backup and cause flooding issues.

"We have included a space for a retainage pond to collect water, larger runoff than normal," said Pioneer Group President, Ross Freeman. "There will be a drainage survey done prior to the next step."

"I'd rather it remain a single-family dwelling because you can sell your home better," said NIA Curtis Moore.

Freeman said response to Pioneer Adams on the north side of the street may indicate another will do well on the south side.

"At the time it (Pioneer Adams) was completed there were over 300 names on the waiting list, which indicates the need and the desire for that type of housing in that area," said Freeman.

Freeman said a common argument among neighbors is that they don't want it in their backyard. "It's understandable. They've had that area vacant for a long period of time," said Freeman. "It's understandable but that's one of the prices we pay for living in a society that's growing."

Still, some neighbors are not convinced the development is a good thing. "It's gonna run the neighborhood down because every other development like that you get folks that don't care," said Moore.

"It brings new people into the area," said Freeman. "Once we finish this new construction surrounding homes upgrade and everybody benefits."

The project still needs city council approval, then Pioneer Group will go into the planning process.

"You don't like to have people be opposed to what you're doing," said Freeman. "But it's a part of the process and hopefully when it's finished they'll be ase pleased with it on the south side as they are on the north."

Freeman said they're hoping to break ground in spring 2009.