116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Hundreds of tenants at a southeast Iowa City apartment complex have been asked to move out so the owners can demolish buildings and renovate others, but residents fear they won't be able to find replacement housing they can afford.
'My budget because I'm a single parent is $750 a month. Everything else is $900,' said Barbara Pruitt, 35. 'We really don't know what to do.'
Owners of Rose Oaks Apartments, previously called Dolphin Lake Point Enclave, sent letters to tenants last week announcing leases would not be renewed because the complex, built in 1966, is undergoing 'extensive remodeling.' Rather than wait for leases to expire, tenants were encouraged to move as soon as possible to avoid limited parking, demolition noise, sidewalk obstructions and 'possible sewage issues,' the letter states.
'We know that it is short notice and finding housing may be difficult,' the letter states. 'But we'd like to have everyone moved from the property by summer.'
Complex owners plan to raze several apartment buildings at the 21-building complex south of Highway 6 to build a clubhouse and pool area, according to a site plan being reviewed by Iowa City Building Inspection Services. They also want to renovate other buildings and construct new ones.
'We have a couple of buildings with substantial mechanical issues and other items in desperate need of repairs,' said Reggie Reed, director of operations for College Fund Properties II LLC, which paid $12 million for the complex last month along with Tod K. Quiring, a Minnesota investor and sprint car sponsor.
Owners are offering Rose Oaks tenants refunds of their security deposit and will try to work with other property managers to help tenants find housing, Reed said.
Terrill Wiges, 65, got a notice on his door a couple of weeks ago saying Rose Oaks would not be renewing his lease, which expires April 30. He has lived in the complex for more than five years with his golden retriever, Trey.
'The place needs to be leveled,' he said, complaining about cockroaches and an outdoor swimming pool that hasn't been opened while he has lived there. He's started calling around to find another apartment, but few allow large dogs.
'I'm 65 and disabled and it puts a big strain on me to move,' he said.
Rents for the complex are listed online as $519 to $799 a month, which is at or below the fair market value listed for the area, said Steve Rackis, Iowa City housing administrator. It will be challenging for tenants to find alternate housing because the vacancy rate for Iowa City is less than 1 percent, Rackis added.
'I would encourage every family to get out now, ahead of the rush,' he said.
Wiges has heard rumors the renovated Rose Oaks will cater to University of Iowa students, who may be able to afford higher rents.
Reed said owners aren't targeting one demographic.
'Students or non students, it's a town that needs capacity,' he said. However, 'the latest site plan shows a decrease in number of units, but more buildings.'
Tom Malloy, 41, isn't waiting for his Rose Oaks lease to expire in August. He and his wife will start looking immediately for a new place to raise their 1-year-old son.
'For hundreds of people to suddenly be uprooted and say 'Good luck finding a new place' ...' Malloy said. 'It's hard to find a house to rent that's not super expensive.'