So the city turned to St. Louis-area-based USA Wealth Partners. The developer has bought a neighborhood that was planned in the early 1980s but never completed. Roads and utility lines were installed on the more than 100-lot division, but fewer than 10 homes were finished.
“We feel very strongly that the demand is there, and we are moving forward,” said Carolyn Warenberg, USA Wealth Partners' senior managing partner.
The Missouri group plans to break ground in September and complete the development within two years.
The homes will be 1,300 to 1,900 square feet with two- and three-car garages and are expected to sell for $130,000 to $190,000, Warenberg said.
The new housing is desperately needed, said Marjorie Anderson, owner of Elk City-based Homestead Title & Closing.
“It would increase everything that goes on here. It would increase taxes and the way we live,” she said.
Besides housing, Elk City also is suffering a labor shortage. So many people are opting to work in the high-paying oil-field jobs that local retailers and other industries cannot keep up.
“We can't compete with the oil-field wages, and they're constantly stealing our people,” Elk City Police Chief Eddie Holland said. “It costs me a lot of money to train someone new and lose him within the first two years.”
More than 3,250 jobs have been created in the area over the past seven years, and local businesses have said they would hire 400 to 500 more people if housing were available, Frye said.
“We have a waiting room full of companies that are growing and looking for employees and faculties to expand,” he said.
“It is a real challenge, but it is a challenge that most communities would give their eye teeth to have.”