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BCH demolition (copy)

Crews demolish for former Beatrice Community Hospital building to make way for a new housing development. The development followed a housing study that identified the need for more residences in the area.

Economic development officials are hoping to continue momentum in the area housing market with an updated study that will be conducted later this year.

The NGage economic development group announced plans to update its previous housing study, which was completed in 2016.

The study will include population details, income and economic data, a housing stock analysis, strategies for affordable housing development, repair/replacement needs due to this year’s flooding, a five-year housing action plan for both new and rehabilitated housing and funding options for all Gage County communities.

The previous study was accompanied by a bus tour of Gage County for potential developers, and Walker Zulkoski, director of NGage, said the study was directly responsible for several new homes in the area.

Most notably, attracting a developer who was interested in the central Beatrice area where the former Beatrice Community Hospital and Health Center once stood.

“The first one that was absolutely, solely in response to the housing study was the demolition of the old hospital, which created the Porter Estates development,” he said. “We did the housing study, we did a bus tour after we presented those results and on that tour with Excel Development, they said, ‘that’s a project we want.’ If not for that study, the numbers and tours, that project would have never happened.”

The study, being conducted by Hanna:Keelan Associates, is being completed with the guidance of a countywide housing steering committee, and is funded in part by the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority, with matching funds from NGage. The total cost of the study is $18,000.

The process will also include a citizen participation program, consisting of countywide housing listening sessions, a citizen household survey and workforce housing needs survey.

The Study will address the housing needs and wants of all age and income household sectors. Special attention will be given to determining the need for varied housing types for the county’s workforce, elderly households, families, special needs populations and the potential for Downtown housing in selected communities.

The study is expected to be complete late this year or in early 2020.

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