Ottawa commissioners voted 3-1 Wednesday to prioritize a funding application from Prairie Fire Development Group for a 56-unit, low-to-moderate income project over another housing proposal.

Commissioner Eric Crowley abstained from voting because he has a contractual relationship with one of the applicants. Mike Skidmore was the lone no vote.

“Housing has become an important topic, again, in the community,” Wynndee Lee, director of community development, said at the commission meeting.

The priority comes specifically for a moderate income housing funding application. The Kansas Housing Resource Corporation has an open application due Sept. 15, which would give up to $400,000 for moderate income housing projects, Lee said.

The commission chose to submit both applications to the state, but was advised by Lee to prioritize one, or they run the risk of not receiving funding for either.

Prairie Fire Development Group, of Olathe, is looking to develop a 56-unit, multi-family project at the corner of North Cherry and Enterprise streets, according to city documents. Co-owner Rudy Manes lives in Ottawa and has more than 20 years of experience in construction.

“We’re affordable housing developers,” Manes said. “We build everything ourselves...At the end of the day, who you see standing here today is going to be the owner of that property.”

Manes added that there is a “tremendous” amount of growth in the Ottawa area, but the housing stock is not where it should be.

“It’s not the type of housing that we need to continue to keep people in our community and bring more employment here, so really, that’s what we’re here to do,” he said.

The three-phase project could cost a total of $9 million, with the first phase being around $870,000. In the first phase, Prairie Fire would build six moderate-income units. For the second, they intend to submit a tax credit application in January, which can be a competitive process, representatives said. Finally, the third phase would be the market rate phase, coming in after most of the development and site work costs have been taken care of.

The units are maintenance-free, and aren’t necessarily targeted for senior living. They are multi-family and for the general population, although seniors can live there if they wish to, Manes said. Estimated rent would range from $595 to $895.

The other application for moderate income housing in Ottawa came from Ross Vogel for the Fairway Vista Project. Vogel is president of Heartland Housing Partners, Kansas City, Missouri.

His proposal included one 24-unit multi-family building with 16 two-bedroom and two-bathroom units, and eight one-bedroom and one-bathroom units. The proposal also included 14 duplex units, 10 with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, and four with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

The multi-family building would be located on the corner of Cross Winds Drive and East Wilson Street (1426 E. Wilson St., Ottawa), while the duplex lots would be located in the 1000 to 1200 blocks of Diamond Head Road.

Rent rates for the multi-family building would range from $800 to $1,000, while the duplexes would range from $1,150 to $1,250.

Commissioner Emily Graves said she was concerned about the prices for the Fairway Vista Project.

“I don’t know a lot of people who are renting who could afford that right now,” Graves said.

On the other hand, Mayor Sara Caylor was concerned about the price range for Prairie Fire.

“I don’t believe that the Prairie Fire Development group is bringing us a low-income [project],” Caylor said. “When you said low-income, I don’t believe $600 is low-income. For a lot of people, that is a house payment.”

The city commission’s next study session is 4 p.m. Sept. 11 at City Hall, 101 S. Hickory St., Ottawa. Its next regular meeting is 9:30 a.m. Sept. 20 at City Hall.s