With $30 Million church building looming, Pott County officials looking at housing needs

Pottawatomie County officials are looking into financing for more housing in the St. Marys area...
Pottawatomie County officials are looking into financing for more housing in the St. Marys area that they say may be needed after a $30 million Immaculata building for the Society of St. Piux X is constructed. In this photo, several hundred church members gathered May 29, 2020, for a groundbreaking ceremony for the new building and an outdoor Mass.(KMAN Radio)
Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 5:29 AM CDT
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ST. MARYS, Kan. (WIBW) - With a new $30 million church building on the horizon on the north side of St. Marys, Pottawatomie County officials are now hoping to do an economic impact analysis on the project.

On May 29, hundreds of members of the Society of St. Pius X Catholic Church gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony and Mass at the site of the new building, called the Immaculata, which will hold more than 1,500 people and stand 12 stories tall.

Pottawatomie County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Jack Allston tells KMAN Radio in Manhattan that his office is hoping to do an economic impact analysis on the project in the near future.

“We might have hundreds of people moving in to the St. Marys, Wamego, Rossville area and we have to be prepared for it,” Allston tells KMAN. “It’s going to require new housing, new development, new stores.”

Construction of the church, which is to get underway in August, is expected to take up to two years.

Allston says there are possibilities for public-private partnerships for housing in the area, citing a rural housing incentive district in Olsburg that might serve a model for the St. Marys area.

Dodge City has several rural housing incentive districts, Allston said. The rural housing incentive districts act like tax increment financing districts, except they’re for housing, Allston told the radio station.

“All the specials or the assessments get billed in increments instead of paying for it all at once,” he said. “We’d like to see that on the outskirts of St. Marys.”

Rural Housing Incentive Districts provide cities and counties with a program to assist developers to build housing in rural communities by assisting in the financing of public improvements.

The Society of St. Pius X, which came to St. Marys in 1978, has an average of around 4,000 people attending traditional Latin Masses each weekend. The church also has an academy with more than 900 students in kindergarten through high school. It also has a college.

As of June 30, fundraising for the new Immaculata building was at $26.7 million of the $30 million goal.

To learn more about the Immaculata project, visit the Society of St. Pius X project website here.

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