116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Affordable Housing Network plans to focus resources on family housing after selling Geneva Tower, Hawthorn Hills
Sale to Denver company was finalized Friday
CEDAR RAPIDS — The Affordable House Network, an affiliate of Four Oaks Family and Children Services, sold two low-income apartment properties in Cedar Rapids as part of a strategic plan to focus more resources on family housing, according to Debbie Craig, Four Oaks’ chief advocacy officer.
The sale of Geneva Tower, 310 Fifth Ave. SE, and Hawthorne Hills, 2283 C St. SW, to Edgemark Communities, the affordable housing division of Denver-based Edgemark Development, was finalized Friday.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
Both apartment buildings are income-based properties partially funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Edgemark has experience with managing affordable housing properties, according to it website, and has renewed the properties’ Housing Assistance Payments Contracts for the next 20 years, according to a news release from the Affordable Housing Network.
Craig said that because Geneva Tower is specifically designed for low-income seniors and adults with disabilities, and Hawthorne Hills is mostly single bedroom apartments occupied by single adults, the housing network leadership believed its resources could be better used in ways that more closely fulfill the network’s values.
“We just evaluated the current portfolio of all of our properties, and we wanted to ensure that it fit our mission and vision and values,” Craig said.
The housing network’s “mission statement is to provide decent, safe and sustainable housing that promotes stability for families. Because (the housing network) is an affiliate with Four Oaks, and our mission is to ensure children become successful adults, we really feel like all of our services … are focused and rooted on the family,” she said.
Craig said final decisions haven’t been made regarding new projects in which the housing network could invest to better support families, such as single-family homes or apartment properties with limited units and more space in each unit.
All the housing network staff at Geneva Tower and Hawthorne Hills have stayed with the network, Craig said, and will be working at the network’s other properties.
Mary Price, a resident of Geneva Tower who has lived there for 32 years, said she has seen a lot of changes at the apartment building, but they still always makes her nervous.
“I don’t like the unexpected,” Price said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”
Edgemark staff held a meeting with Geneva Tower residents earlier this week in which they assured them that rent wouldn’t be going up and went over some of the details of the staff changes, according to Price.
These are Edgemark’s first property acquisitions in Iowa, but the company has worked with low-income properties and not-for-profit sellers several times in other states, according to Aaron Metz, managing principal at Edgemark.
At Geneva Tower specifically, Metz told The Gazette the company hopes to improve operating efficiency and hire a service coordinator who could help elderly residents with activities such as buying groceries and getting to appointments.
Cedar Rapids Community Development Director Jennifer Pratt said in a statement the Geneva Tower and Hawthorne Hills developments meet a critical need in the community.
“We look forward to working with the new owners who will continue providing housing for these populations,” Pratt said.
Geneva Tower has had three fires in the past 20 years, records show, the most recent in February. Cedar Rapids District 3 City Council member Dale Todd said the city learned from the fire that managing a community of people with complicated medical and mental health needs requires a lot of supportive services.
“This is a costly proposition for a nonprofit or private developer. I am interested in how the new owner plans to make the numbers work in the future and how the current owners plan to support and make the transition a productive one for the tenants and the community,” Todd said.
Gazette reporter Marissa Payne contributed to this article.
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