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New Aurora subdivision, housing project nears completion after only one year

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AURORA — From bare earth to a row of new houses in only one year, Aurora’s workforce housing project has taken off since its announcement on Nov. 12, 2021.

Along Cottage Park Drive, 19 units are complete or under construction, with nine more units set to be started.

Along with the new townhomes, a single family home has been completed, along with a series of roads in the new subdivision to promote further growth.

A tour of the new townhomes was held by AHDC Tuesday, joined by Cliff Mesner of Mesner Development and Aurora Mayor Marlin Seeman.

ADHC President Jannelle Seim, partnering with Aurora Development Corporation, pursued the rural workforce housing grant, through Nebraska Department of Economic Development, which provided $1 million in matching funds to create houses.

“We had a $2 million revolving fund that we were able to leverage to create these eight townhomes here,” said Seim. “We were able to leverage this $2 million into 60 lots and 19 homes that are under construction.”

Mesner spoke proudly of the new homes created.

“Each one has a little bit different color scheme, but every other one is all vinyl or carpeted,” he said. “We’ve really enjoyed being over here. We’re in a dozen different communities now.”

A tax credit program will allow for 18 senior living apartments through partnership with Mesner Development, which will start construction this spring, said Seim.

“What you’re going to find with these units is that most of them are going to go to seniors and most of the seniors are going to sell a three-bedroom home to come over here, and that three-bedroom home will be filled with a family,” said Mesner. “You’ll see the same thing with the tax credit program that we do.”

He added, “The first time we went into a town, 60% to 70% of the people who move into our affordable housing sell a three-bedroom home.”

Housing is needed, as Hamilton County is experiencing tremendous population growth.

According to the 2020 census, the county added more than 300 people since 2010, a 3.3% growth, for a county total of 9,424 people.

Aurora Mayor Marlin Seeman applauded the project.

“In housing development time, this is an extraordinarily efficient arc of getting here,” said Seeman. “We took bare dirt and converted it into lots and houses. I’m just proud that the city was proud to be a part of all of that process.”

Seeman encouraged even more development.

“Don’t stop building,” he said. “All of you that build houses, build houses. Streets, we want to build more streets, because I love those streets. Let’s keep the project rocking and rolling, and do the next thing, but give us a product the realtors in the community can sell, a product that is needed.”

ADHC may pursue grant funding for more housing, said Seim, as the NDED Rural Workforce Housing Fund has increased from $10 million to $30 million.

“We think we have a unique opportunity and a pretty good track record to ask for some more support to do that,” she said. “The big difference, the reason we would even consider it, is the match is now 50%, rather than 100%.”

She added, “It’s been so much fun I want to do it again.”

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