Platte City officials happy with pilot revitalization program

City of Platte City officials have expressed satisfaction with a pilot revitalization project that resulted in nearly $500,000 worth of investment in existing structures.

However, Platte City city manager DJ Gehrt said he’s not ready to extend the effort into next year’s budget at this point. While the early returns on the program have been positive, only two of the 17 residential projects and none of the seven commercial projects have been completed at this point.

“Right now, it’s gone well. The administration appears to have gone well. The selection appears to have gone well — so far so good,” Gehrt said during the Platte City Board of Aldermen’s economic development subcommittee meeting Tuesday, Feb. 16. “But we still have to actually do things, and we want to make sure that goes well before we come back to you and say, ‘Yeah, this actually worked or didn’t work.’

“If we don’t have that done in time to get into this budget, I would recommend we don’t continue it just to continue it.”

In a span of about three months, the city allocated almost all of the $200,000 budgeted for the program, although with a minor learning experience.

Originally, the city planned to offer matching grant funds of up to $100,000 for residential projects and another $100,000 for properties along Main Street in the downtown district. Due to some processing errors, the city’s commitment to the 17 residential projects ended up being about $107,000.

“When things come in very closely together, it gets a little bit hectic trying to keep track of exactly how much we have obligated,” Gehrt said. “So we ended up overpromising the residential projects before I cut that off.

“We learned a little bit about administration of the program, but it’s tricky.”

Gehrt said the city opted to cut the commercial expenditures to about $93,000 to avoid going over budget. Currently, $199,983 of the $200,000 has been committed.

“It’s pretty impressive you got within $17 — plus or minus,” Platte City Ward II alderman Lee Stubbs said.

Projects were reviewed and funds allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis, and no more projects will be accepted, unless the program is extended or continued at some point in the future.

Eligibility for the residential program was limited to owner-occupied, single-family homes with the main structure at least 25 years old. Gehrt said most of the 17 involved concrete work but others included garage doors, windows, siding, etc.

All residential projects were for a minimum of $5,000 and maximum of $20,000 with the city and private owner splitting the costs.

The business grant program was for a minimum of $10,000 and a maximum of $40,000, leaving the city’s obligations between $5,000 and $20,000. Business must be located in Platte City’s C1 business district, which stretches along Main Street from just east of Fourth Street to Settler’s Crossing Park.

The area also extends a half block north and south of Main Street.

Sprint Lumber at 420 Main St. went with the largest project and maxing out the city’s $20,000 contribution. The company also plans to invest $41,000 of its own money to completely redo the façade of the building along with an addition at the rear of the store.

The city plans to give a detailed description at each project during an upcoming meeting.

“I think the downtown may be our best bang for our buck,” Gehrt said.

The City of Platte City hopes to increase property values through the program. As with many established cities in Missouri, Platte City faces the challenge of an aging inventory of single family residential properties and aging downtown business structures.

Ward I alderman Vickie Atkins questioned the decision to not include the program in the upcoming fiscal budget due to the positive early returns. She asked that the money be set aside and not promised to other projects, giving the revitalization effort a chance to continue for a second straight year.

“Everybody seems really positive about it,” Gehrt said. “We still have to go through the actual construction, and I think it’s too early to tell. Right now, it looks every positive but it’s too early to tell, ‘Yeah, this is something we want to keep doing.’”

In addition to the update on the revitalization program, Gehrt also gave a presentation on a go-to market resolution for bonds to fund Platte City’s portion of the Kentucky Avenue extension project.

In November of 2014, voters approved a no-tax increase ballot measure authorizing the city to take out up to $2.7 million in bonds to help fund the project, which will extend the roadway from its current terminus at Bent Oak Court to Fourth Street. The road will be a divided four lane boulevard.

The city only ended up needing $1.9 million.

Gehrt said the city could take out additional bonds for up to $200,000 or pay that excess amount out of existing funds if the project goes over budget. The Platte County R-3 School District is responsible for any excess over $2.1 million.

The city’s debt payment will be about $50,000 for the first three years with that increasing to about $125,000 for the final 17 years. The first three payments will come from the general fund, but paying off existing debt will allow the rest to be paid out of the debt service portion of collected taxes. An early payoff feature will also be included.