By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
Community members and partners responsible for the construction of 10 new rental homes and four spec homes in Imperial celebrated the achievement during a ribbon cutting Wednesday, Sept. 3.
Imperial Mayor Dwight Coleman, who emceed the event, expressed his pride in the community and the partners who made the project a reality.
“This is a special day for the community,” Coleman told a crowd of around 60 people who attended the ribbon cutting to officially open Heather Estates.
Coleman credited developer Matt Thomas and his company, Dana Point Development, for investing a great deal of time, effort and financial resources to bring much needed housing to Imperial.
Coleman said it’s the city’s hope to build more housing through future projects.
Thomas, whose company is located in Turlock, Calif., has developed all of his housing projects in Nebraska. To date, those projects number 10 with three more planned.
Thomas said he was just a small cog in bringing all the pieces together to make the project a reality.
He recognized the city of Imperial, administrator Jo Leyland and community developer Jason Tuller for “bending over backwards” to make the project happen. “Jo and Jason are my best two unpaid employees,” he joked.
Thomas said the project would not be possible without the federal housing tax credit program, which is administered by the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority (NIFA).
That, coupled with funds from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, and land and funds invested by the city of Imperial made everything come together.
Thomas said Midwest Housing Equity Group (MHEG) in Omaha plays a big role in buying the tax credits to provide the equity necessary for a project.
Ann Burge, formerly with the Southwest Nebraska Betterment Corporation in Grant, serves as chief operating officer for MHEG.
Congressman Adrian Smith was also a guest at the event and said he was grateful there were investors and various partners to bring the project to fruition.
Jen Oscarson with MHEG emphasized the importance and need for the housing tax credit program in rural America.
“Without tax credits, these projects would not happen,” she said. Because of the program, there have been 3,300 affordable housing units built in the 3rd Congressional District, she added.
That’s created 3,800 jobs and an investment of $84 million in private equity to leverage the tax credits.
Eight of the 10 rental homes were built under the tax credit program. These units are rent-controlled units. The other two units rent at market rates.
The units are either three or four bedroom homes built on a slab with a two-car garage and storage space.
Leyland said the project represents the “most wonderful thing that’s happened with housing” in Imperial in more than 20 years.
She said Imperial was fortunate to have Thomas take a chance on investing in Imperial and helping the community grow.
Heather Estates is named after Thomas’ wife, Heather, who was also present at the ribbon cutting and open house that followed.