Crestwood debate ends, demonstration now begins

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Rezoning was granted Tuesday by a supermajority of the Cedar Rapids City Council, giving the hotly debated Crestwood Ridge mixed-income housing complex a green light.

From the beginning, this editorial board supported the project. We did so because it earned city support for its grant application, met the strict criteria of a state competitive grant, aligns with local planning, won the recommendation of city staff and, most importantly, fills a long-standing affordable and supportive housing gap.

Awarded $8 million in federal tax credits through the Iowa Finance Authority, Crestwood Ridge includes a mix of market rate and affordable housing units. Five of the 45 units are set aside as supportive housing and earmarked for residents experiencing homelessness.

CommonBond Communities, which has a stellar track record, will manage the property. Willis Dady, a long-standing and respected local organization, will provide case management.

Tuesday night six of eight council members voted to rezone and move this project forward. Five, just like this board, long supported the project. The sixth acknowledged CommonBond listened to neighbors and made significant changes to address traffic, pedestrian safety and water drainage concerns.

To be sure these compromises did not sway neighborhood residents, who audibly scoffed opposing viewpoints at the public hearing. More concerning and disappointing is added investments by CommonBond did not alter the political posturing of Mayor Ron Corbett or Council member Scott Olson.

Crestwood supporters have signaled their hope this development will be the first of many sprinkled throughout the community. We support that vision; understand economic vitality stems from proportionate diversity.

We also acknowledge trust has been broken and, regardless of reason, must be healed.

Neighborhood residents voiced disbelief that added improvements will become a reality. We urge CommonBond and Willis Dady to continue to react swiftly to these concerns.

The site is not only a statewide demonstration project on reversing homelessness, but the most prominent local example of how affordable and supportive housing can be seamlessly placed within and coexist with an established neighborhood.

The future of this type of housing in Cedar Rapids now rests in the hands of Willis Dady and CommonBond.

• Comments: (319) 398-8469; editorial@thegazette.com

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