CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF
BURNET — City leaders have launched the My Town Housing Program to spur the housing and job markets as well as revitalize an older neighborhood in the southeastern sector of Burnet, officials say.
Crews broke ground on the first home, located at 1205 E. Live Oak, for the My Town project, which involves a collaborative effort among the Burnet Economic Development Corp., the city of Burnet, local builders and realtors.
“We came up with a program that not only was geared at jobs creation but also, at the same time, helps renovate and restore older parts of the community,” Burnet City Manager Michael Vaughn said. “We’re making those (lots) available to builders at a highly discounted price as an incentive to come in and build houses in areas of town that otherwise they would be hesitant to do so.”
The EDC purchased six lots, primarily in the southeast section of town, to plant the seeds for the program.
In late July, Langley Builders Inc. launched construction on the first home, a 1,400 square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath structure with two carports.
“Burnet is definitely in need of affordable housing, said Ann Langley, spokeswoman for Langley Homes Inc. “We’ve been in the building industry since 1985. It’s always been a problem in being affordable in keeping prices down where working people can afford to purchase.”
The program has been good for business, she said.
“We have hired more framing crews, and the city has been very instrumental in it because of waiving their fees and also providing the economical lots,” Langley said. “I hope its growth for Burnet (to) bring in more businesses if there’s more places for people to live.”
Vaughn said a recent dip in construction activity prompted EDC and city officials to act after building permits reached a high of 65 in 2008 and fell to just seven by 2012.
“A lot of our jobs moved when the construction industry went down in 2008, so it was something we thought that we really needed to make an effort to get these back,” he said. “Between the EDC program, which is in partnership with the city, and the city adopting a (building) fee waiver program, we’re already seeing a significant impact.”
As a result, the city recorded 21 building permits in June.
“All of that has been a major boost to get our housing market kicked off again,” Vaughn said.
The first home is expected to be completed in two to three months. Fealtors will then work to attract buyers.
“We’ve already received phone calls from people who are interested in buying the houses,” Vaughn said. “We truly believe that this is one of the major programs that will have an impact on the community long term.”