Representatives of Mennonite Housing on Friday signed an option contract to purchase about 14.5 acres of ground from the city of Newton for the development of a senior housing project.

At Tuesday night’s city commission meeting, the commission authorized the sale of city-owned property at W. First and Boyd to Mennonite Housing for a proposed senior housing development.

Mennonite Housing optioned about 14.5 acres of developable land for $3,000 per acre and will bear all the costs for extension of water and sewer mains and for drainage improvements, including a detention pond. The company also agreed not to request a waiver of building permit and inspection fees. A drainage reserve area of about 10 acres will be given to the developer for $1 for construction of the pond.

The long-term plan is a phased housing project with up to 120 units, constructed as single-story four-plexes. Phase 1 includes 32 housing units in eight buildings and a clubhouse. The developer plans to apply for tax credits from the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation to subsidize the cost of the development and keep rent for the properties affordable.

The development will be nonprofit and thus will not pay property taxes, but commissioners noted that the city will see increased utility revenue from the homes and possibly sales tax revenue from construction materials and associated purchases. The project also helps meet a need for affordable senior rental housing identified in the city’s housing needs assessment and may free up existing single-family homes from seniors looking to downsize.

The city has owned the property since 1996, and it is currently leased for farming. It was originally intended as the site for a sports complex. In 2014, the city approved a multi-family housing project at the site, but the development ultimately fell through.