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Cedar Rapids housing projects awarded $15.66 million in federal disaster funding

This funding is part of the money received in response to the 2008 flooding disasters

Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette

The former Iowa-Illinois Gas & Electric Co. building at 323 Third St. SE in southeast Cedar Rapids is one of six local housing projects to receive money from federal disaster funding Thursday.
Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette The former Iowa-Illinois Gas & Electric Co. building at 323 Third St. SE in southeast Cedar Rapids is one of six local housing projects to receive money from federal disaster funding Thursday.
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CEDAR RAPIDS — The former Iowa-Illinois Gas & Electric Co. office building secured $3.12 million in federal disaster funds Thursday, which will help turn old offices into 32 new apartments in the heart of downtown.

Developer and architect Steve Emerson said he expects to begin the transformation of the six-story building at 323 Third St. SE this spring. His plan is to have underground parking, five floors of apartments and a first-floor grocery if he can find a grocer willing to locate there.

Emerson will spend $9.9 million on the project, which he is calling Cornerstone Place.

“It’s right in the core of the downtown and it’s been vacant forever,” he said. “And for housing, it will be incredible.”

Five other local housing projects also received funding Thursday in awards announced by the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA). The state agency handed out $52 million in awards, $15.66 million of which is going to the six Cedar Rapids projects.

Thursday’s funding awards are part of a sixth round of funding for multifamily housing in Iowa, supported by money received after the flooding disasters that hit the state in 2008.

The six rounds of funding have steered a total of $64.66 million in federal Community Development Block Grant disaster funds to Cedar Rapids — as well as $75.8 million in private investment — to build 817 residential rental units.

Since the 2008 flood, local developers and homeowners have received an additional $44.4 million in federal disaster funds and $809,238 in local funds for new home construction. Another $56 million in federal tax-credit funding has helped support five large apartment projects.

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“It’s been a busy few years,” Caleb Mason, redevelopment analyst in the city’s Community Development Department, said Thursday.

Hobart Historic Restoration of Cedar Rapids plans to transform the Kubias Building at 307-311 Third Ave. SE into 18 apartment units. Hobart received $2.695 million in federal funds and will spend $2.34 million in private funds on the project.

B.J. Hobart, an owner of Hobart Historic Restoration, on Thursday said the demand for the apartments should be high. The first floor of the building will remain commercial space, she said.

“It is a great location, has good views of downtown, adjacent parking, it’s close to Greene Square Park and will have large units with historic design elements,” she said.

Mayor Ron Corbett said Thursday that Cedar Rapids has recently been named as a top-10 city in the nation for job growth, and so funding for more housing is needed.

“We had a big task ahead of us to replace all the housing we lost in the flood,” Corbett said. “We accomplished that and now we’re building for the future.”

The four other Cedar Rapids projects receiving funding on Thursday from IEDA are:

l Village West Apartments, a seven-unit development at 100 16th Ave. SW in Czech Village. The developer is Bob Schaffer, who will invest $379,324 to go with an award of $738,920.

l Cedar Point Apartments, a 30-unit project at 1427 Center Point Rd. NE. The developer is TW Sather Co., who obtained a $3-million award to go with $2.13 million in private investment.

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l Creekside Apartments, a 30-unit project at 1415 Center Point Rd. NE. TW Sather Co. is also this project’s developer, and the company will invest $2.13 million and has received a $2.995 million award.

l Kingston Pointe, an 18-unit project at 210 Fifth St. SW in Kingston Village. Steve Emerson is the developer and will invest $2.8 million to go with an award of $3.1 million.

Projects in Cedar Falls, Davenport, Des Moines, Waterloo, West Des Moines, Burlington, Ottumwa, Hampton, Clinton, Iowa Falls, Fort Madison, Woodbine, Windsor Heights, Mount Pleasant and Marshalltown also received funding in Thursday’s announcement.

l Comments: (319) 398-8312; rick.smith@thegazette.com

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