Cedar Rapids mission director cancels plan for apartments

Crossroads head listens to neighbors; apartments would have served once-homeless residents

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Objections from neighbors have prompted Pat Kane to pull the plug on his plan to construct a new building of efficiency apartments for once-homeless people next to his Crossroads Mission, 1006 Second St. SW.

Kane, the mission’s executive director and a vicar at Zion Lutheran Church in Hiawatha, unveiled his housing plan a month ago, when he publicly asked the city to donate five city lots that once held flood-damaged homes to his effort to build a 22-to-27-unit apartment building for those who had been homeless.

Kane’s request for now-city-owned lots was not unusual: The city has donated other lots as part of a program to replace affordable housing lost in core flood-hit neighborhoods outside the 100-year flood plain.

However, City Council member Scott Olson asked Kane at a council committee meeting last month to make sure that he talked to neighbors, as similarly situated neighbors in Des Moines turned out to protest a housing project for once-homeless people there, Olson said.

Kane has now talked to a meeting of neighbors where his housing idea found no support, he said Monday.

"Residents from 10 to 12 households showed up at the meeting, and there was a lot of resentment about building into the neighborhood," Kane said. "And we choose not to get into a public fray with the neighbors. It’s not our intent or desire to get into any kind of controversy with neighborhoods."

Kane had created a new entity, Cedar Rapids Area Subsidized Housing Inc., as part of the housing proposal, and he said he now will shut the entity down.

Even so, Kane said the work of the mission, which is located near Linn County’s administration building and the Penford Products Co. plant, will continue.

"We’ve not stopped caring about the homeless," he said.

Acquiring the five city lots for the proposed apartment building was only one step in bringing about a new housing option for those who are trying to get back on their feet. Raising money for the $2-million construction project had yet to be done. Kane said he remains open to trying to build a similar project on another site one day.

"We would never pass up an opportunity when it presents itself," he said.

Kathy Potts, president of the Taylor Area Neighborhood Association, said Monday that she and about 25 individuals attended the recent meeting with Kane to express their objections to his plan. It was not a meeting of the association, she noted, but of neighbors close to the mission and the proposed building site.

"A lot of the neighbors worked hard to get back into their homes after the flood, and they just wanted to keep the neighborhood the way it is," Potts said. "Pat Kane’s project was just bigger than what they wanted to see right across the street from them."

The City Council had set a public hearing  for Nov. 13 to consider Kane’s request for the five city lots, at 1016 Second St. SW, 1100 K St. SW, 1104 K St. SW, 1108 K St. SW and 1116 K St. SW.

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