The groundbreaking photo at the former water tower lots was taken in April 2014 and included then-Hot Springs Mayor Don DeVries in the center holding a shovel.
By Brett Nachtigall
HOT SPRINGS – Lacey Piazza’s Habitat For Humanity Governor’s House going up in Hot Springs currently is not only a story about her personal triumph of owning a home – and the patience and hard work that it takes – but also in the work and patience it takes on a community-wide level as well.
Seven years ago this month, on April 11, 2014, a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the corner of 23rd and Washington, which was the site of the City of Hot Springs’ former water tower. That corner features a total of four plotted lots, two which were owned by the city and two owned by Black Hills Power.
Three years prior, in 2011, the two entities pledged to support the stewardship of Dakota Land Trust by donating those four lots to be placed in the Land Trust. The city and Black Hills Power then worked to clean up the lots and prepare them for the eventual donation and groundbreaking.
Dakota Land Trust is a non-profit, community-based organization established to create and preserve a permanent supply of affordable homes. Dakota Land Trust homebuyers purchase only the house and enter into a 99-year ground lease to take the cost of land out of their purchase price.
Despite the 2014 groundbreaking, very little visual activity has been seen – that is until Piazza’s Governor’s House was set down on a crawl space foundation last month on March 18.
According to Mike Walker, the Executive Director of NeighborWorks Dakota Home Resources which owns the former water tower lots, the land for Piazza’s new home was made possible when his organization sold one of their four lots to Black Hills Area Habitat for Humanity. He said it’s something NeighborWorks has done with Habitat in the past in other Black Hills communities, but was the first time in Hot Springs.
Walker went on to further explain that the four lots acquired from the City of Hot Springs and Black Hills Power in 2014 were split up, in that, two were part of the Dakota Land Trust, with the other two with NeighborWorks. The difference in being that the Land Trust lots included the aforementioned 99-year ground lease, which helps lower the cost of the home since the homeowner does not also own the lot. He said Habitat for Humanity acquired one of the Land Trust lots.
Given the current demand for housing in Hot Springs, Walker said his organization is diligently looking at placing their own Governor’s Houses on the remaining former water tower lots.
Despite their technically being three lots remaining, due to the large concrete footers remaining underground from the old water towner, there is technically only space for two more homes. Walker then described how his organization would likely combine the two most westerly lots into one and then place a traditional Governor’s House (wider road frontage) on the lot, so that the home faces 23rd Street. Piazza’s home faces Washington Avenue and is a “narrow frontage” Governor’s House. This would leave open a lot narrow between it and Piazza’s home, which could then eventually also feature a narrow frontage Governor’s House.
Walker said the South Dakota Housing Development Authority is currently one year out in their orders for Governor’s Houses, so even if they ordered one now, they are still one year away from being able to put it in Hot Springs.
While there is currently not anyone who has committed to purchasing a home through NeighborWorks to put in Hot Springs, there has been some that have expressed interest, according to Walker.
For anyone who would like to explore the opportunity further, Walker said they can call his office in Deadwood at 605-578-1401. He added that they are making two options available for potential homebuyers which include either with the Land Trust option or without.
There are currently two other Governor’s Houses going up in Hot Springs on the city’s former water-fill station lots along Canton Avenue. Those are being constructed by Hult Homes, and represent the second phase of an RFP (Request For Proposal) project with the City of Hot Springs, which began last year and where there are currently already two other Governor’s Houses that have since been purchased.
According to Dean Hedrick with Hult Homes, the two latest new Governor’s Houses will be set on the foundations next week and are already under contract. One is a narrow lot three-bedroom, two-bath home on an unfinished basement, while the other is standard layout (front door on wide side) two-bedroom, one-bath on an unfinished basement. That home will face 22nd Street, while all of the others face Canton Avenue.
Hedrick said both new homes are set to close in May and will represent the completion of the RFP project with the City of Hot Springs.