SOMERSET, Ky. — A new initiative of the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) is taking a creative approach to fulfilling the need for affordable housing and workforce participation in the community.
SPEDA recently sold nearly 22 acres of property at the Valley Oak Commerce Complex — Pulaski County’s largest industrial area on the eastern side — that will be developed into affordable housing units within walking distance of several of the community’s largest manufacturers.
Following a detailed request for proposal (RFP) process in late summer of 2022, Valley Oak LLC, led by principal developer Jacob Clark, was selected to purchase and develop the property after the company submitted a multi-phase proposal to build one-, two- and three-bedroom housing units on each site. The property is located behind Hendrickson International along Pin Oak Drive and Dahl Road.
The initiative offers a unique solution to the housing shortage in Somerset-Pulaski County while combating rising gas and housing prices due to inflation, said Chris Girdler, SPEDA president and CEO.
“With the need for affordable housing and more people in the workforce at an all-time high in Somerset-Pulaski County and Kentucky, SPEDA wanted to find a way to leverage property we owned to help solve these complex problems,” Girdler said. “We engaged the private sector to submit proposals to us that detailed plans on how best to utilize the property and how it would benefit Valley Oak Complex, the community and the region. Valley Oak LLC’s plan was an intriguing way to enhance the area while addressing challenges in our community and we’re excited to see it take shape.”
Girdler noted that the land has been vacant and on the market for over two decades. Most of the property is undevelopable because of steep slopes and drainage easements and is not conducive to future industrial or commercial development.
“SPEDA is always actively looking for ways to engage the private sector to make things happen in the community,” Girdler said. “Doing so is a strong tool for growth. We look forward to seeing this land, which has significant untapped potential, help this area of Pulaski County continue to grow and thrive.”
Girdler noted that with the improved flow of transportation created by the expansion of Ky. 461 and the addition of a cloverleaf interchange at Ky. 80 and 461, offering housing near so many employers is the next step in making Pulaski County jobs more accessible.
“Now people can get to these jobs so much easier, whether they drive or, once the housing units have been developed, walk to work,” Girdler said.
The first phase of development will create 16 one-, two- and three-bedroom units with anticipated completion in fall 2023. More could follow based on demand and feasibility, Girdler said.
SPEDA will issue another RFP in the spring for the remaining 3 acres the organization owns in the Valley Oak Complex, seeking private-sector proposals for development.
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