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Stafford County joins in on building boom
Gray Studio St John 2024
Construction workers were busy last week installing OSB wallboard in the interior of the Gray Photography Studio in St. John. The interior refit is expected to be complete by some time in 2025.

St. JOHN — There’s a building boom in the Golden Belt, and Stafford County Economic Development isn’t going to be left behind.

“We are building nine houses, with five in St. John and four in Stafford,” noted Ryan Russell, SCEDC executive director. 

The 18-month building project is through the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation, through its Middle Income Housing offering.

Funding is being provided by the State of Kansas, Stafford County, and the communities of Stafford and St. John. “We also have a loan with favorable rates from SJN Bank of Kansas,” Russell noted. Part of the funding is also in the form of tax credits that are currently available. 

Two houses are currently being constructed, at 303 N. Morrell in Stafford and 413 W. Second  St. in St. John. Concrete has begun at the Morrell street location and the other site will start pouring concrete soon.

The next seven houses will have the same design as the first two. “We were able to keep about 85% of the contracts for the first two houses within the county,” Russell said. “We hope to do the same for the next seven.”

Bids are currently being  taken for the next seven houses, with due date as May 1.

Gray Photography Studio

Meanwhile, interior construction has begun on the Gray Photography Studio in St. John.

The interior refit begins with OSB board, followed by drywall. Construction is being accomplished by Davis Electric, Guthrie Construction and Joiner Construction.

“Our online benefit auction went well and we were able to raise $6,500 directly from sales of art pieces,” Russell noted. “Because of the promotion of the auction there were individuals who donated directly to Gray Photo Studio at around $1,500, so in total we raised $8,000.”

Russell noted that SCED will be seeking other grants to raise additional funds for the planned Museum Room. “We are hoping to work with Upland Exhibits who have developed Exhibits in Greensburg and other museums,” he said. 

The room will cost an additional $80,000 for exhibits and other pieces in the space.  This is our next targeted amount to raise.

The target for the Art Center at Gray Photography is some time in 2025, Russell said.