Last year was busiest for new home-building in Overland Park since 2004

Permits for new single-family homes in Overland Park last year outpaced permits for multi-family dwellings in 2021 for the first time in at least five years. File photo.

Overland Park saw a resurgence of single-family home building last year, with permits for single-family homes greatly outnumbering multi-family homes for the first time since 2017, according to data presented to a council committee Wednesday by the planning staff.

The details: Community Development Committee members heard a generally upbeat annual report that described 2021 as a year of recovery from the pandemic challenges of 2020.

  • Last year was a digression from an ongoing trend toward multi-family building that has been booming for at least the past five years.
  • The year 2018, in particular, stood out as a huge year for apartment building, where 1,731 units of multi-family housing were built to 370 for single-family homes.
  • In 2021, however, that trend reversed as single-family permits pulled ahead with 584 permits versus 226 for apartments, the busiest year in single-family building since 2004, the report stated.

Affordability concerns: Most of the questions from committee members concerned affordable housing and a public perception that the city is green-lighting too many apartment projects.

  • Councilmember Fred Spears noted that appraised home values have risen 23.7% since 2017, while the median household income is only up 17.2% for the same period.
  • “Is this something we should be concerned with? I have no idea what we can do about it, but is it something we should be concerned with?” he asked.

Too many apartments? Spears also asked Brian Jackson, the senior planner who presented the report, whether the report supported the idea expressed by some citizens that the number of apartments being built is changing the character of the city.

  • Jackson replied that most multi-family projects have tended to be built in areas that were already planned for higher density, and he demurred from giving an ideal target ratio of single-family homes to apartment units.
  • Councilmember Sam Passer also mentioned concerns he’s heard about housing: “I think there’s a narrative going on that out-of-town developers or investors are buying a lot of residential housing and are doing things from short-term rentals to long-term rentals to all sorts of things we should be concerned about.”
  • He said it appears the data doesn’t back that up, because owner-occupied housing has remained at about the same percentage as in the past.

What’s next: The report didn’t require action, but Jackson said it’s likely the statistics will be discussed further as city councilmembers and officials consider updates to the city’s comprehensive plan.

Other takeaways: The report also found that:

  • Overland Park’s population now stands at 201,870.
  • The median age of 38.5 represents a slight increase since 2016 but is roughly in line with the rest of the metro area, which has a median age of 37.4.
  • Median income is $87,625, an increase of 17 % since 2016. Forty-four percent of the city’s households now earn more than $100,000 annually.
  • The unemployment rate is down to 3.2% from a peak of 11.4% in 2020.
  • Average appraised home value is now $373,618, putting Overland Park in the top third or fourth of the metro in that category.