Osceola Offering ‘Shovel-Ready Lots’ for Free to Developers

OSCEOLA, Iowa - The Clarke County Development Corporation is eyeing a new strategy to spur residential development in Osceola by offering a deal developers may find almost too good to be true.

"This helps our manufacturing community continue to attract workers; we hear the president talking about, he wants to make sure our manufacturing environment is well-supported, and this is part of our role to help those manufacturers find the workers they need," said Clarke County Development Corporation executive director, Bill Trickey.

The corporation has entered into an agreement with the city to basically give lots away to developers who are interested. The corporation will acquire the lot, give it to the developer, and even pay the interest on that developer's construction loan for up to a year, worth $7,500 in interest. The corporation can do this because the city has agreed to pass along all property tax revenue paid by the future home-owner on that lot to the corporation, until the cost of the lot and the interest it paid is settled.

Trickey says this is an alternative strategy to offering tax abatements to home owners - a common practice happening in the development boom around the Greater Des Moines Metro. With this initiative, Trickey says a safety net is created for the builders - who often shy away from residential development endeavors in smaller towns where a home may sit on a lot for awhile before it is bought. Trickey also adds that Osceola is somewhat of an anomaly: it's a town of about 5,000 people, but it has around 4,400 non-farm jobs in the manufacturing industry. The corporation estimates around 2,500 people live somewhere else and commute to Osceola for work; this initiative would hopefully persuade those commuters to live in Osceola, Trickey says.

"I know of at least three builders that are considering this right now, so, we just broke this story with our publication recently," he said. "So, the word is just getting around, so we're hopeful."

More information can be found here.