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June 2012
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Developers finding Paducah, McCracken County right for multi-family

By JOSHUA ROBERTS jroberts@paducahsun.com


hen people within the local building industry, be they developers or government leaders tasked with oversight, examine the Paducah and McCracken residential housing market as of late, one trend emerged.

After a lag, multi-family ventures are returning.

"There was not a lot of new multi-family built in Paducah for 20 years or so," city Planning Director Steve Ervin said. "What we've seen the last couple of years is a major influx in the city and county of multi-family units."

"Some of that may be market driven. People saw the need. It was difficult to find quality, affordable multi-family in the city of Paducah, and I think you're seeing a response to that by these new units being built."

David Flowers, McCracken County's director of building and electrical inspection, said developers have told him that a shift had been occurring locally, and more people were straying from home buying, preferring the convenience, finances and flexibility of renting instead.

"People are wanting to get away from larger homes and the upkeep of homes," he said. "They are wanting to get something and just pay rent and when something goes wrong, they can call somebody."

Philip Higdon, vice president of Higdon Development and president of Greenway Village, an apartment complex near Stuart Nelson Park, said the trend of more people wanting to rent rather than own homes started to emerge in the wake of the 2008 housing and financial crisis.

"Nationally there has been a huge shift from home ownership to being more flexible and more mobile," he said. "People are really looking at renting differently."

He echoed Ervin's views that new multi-family construction is an answer to a local market need.

"There hadn't been an apartment complex built in the city limits of Paducah since the '90s," Higdon said, adding that a market analysis his company conducted confirmed that belief.

Greenway Village, built on 20 acres, is designed for expansion. When completed, it will have 200 rental apartments and 80 condos for ownership. A swimming pool and clubhouse are also under construction.

The Greenway Village name speaks to one of the philosophies behind the development, Higdon said.

"The intent was to have a little self-contained village like you would see in Florida," he said. "â ¦ That's the community aspect we're trying to create at Greenway Village."

Another prominent, local new multi-family development is Liberty Point Apartments, 3465 Stanley Road, about a mile from Kentucky Oaks Mall, off Olivet Church Road. Patrick Mobley, and his father, Jim, are the developers.

The development entails one- and two-bedroom apartments, with each having its own garage and private patio.

"Our lives were coming together and it made sense for us to do a project together at this time," Patrick said. "And, I think the financial environment in town was also coming together -- the banks were open to loaning money, rates were right, there was a need in town. It all came together to spark this development at the same time."

Patrick said Liberty Point is "on the high end of the portfolio of multi-family housing."

"We tend to be very attractive to an older demographic due to the construction style we use, the amount of land we purchased, the amenities and the design," he said. "That accommodates a lot of older residents rather than your millennials and first-time homebuyers."

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