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Cedar Rapids projects put affordable housing center stage

One development aimed for NewBo, another near Kirkwood

A rendering shows the earlier design proposed for Art Tech Village on Fourth Street SE in the NewBo District in Cedar Rapids. The developer submitted a new design Tuesday that splits the campus into two buildings and adds more affordable units. (Hatch Development Group/KNTXT Group)
A rendering shows the earlier design proposed for Art Tech Village on Fourth Street SE in the NewBo District in Cedar Rapids. The developer submitted a new design Tuesday that splits the campus into two buildings and adds more affordable units. (Hatch Development Group/KNTXT Group)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Two proposed developments offering 86 affordable units and a handful of market rate rentals is just what a community “starving” for housing options needs, a City Council member said during a meeting Tuesday.

In the NewBo District, developers reintroduced ArtTech Village in a revised work-live campus plan, with a heavier focus on lower-cost, “workforce” housing.

In the other development, Woda Cooper Development is proposing a 48-unit complex near Kirkwood Community College.

Together, they promise 86 affordable units for people earning at or below 60 percent, 40 percent or 30 percent of the area median income. In Cedar Rapids, the median annual income for a household of one is $57,000.

“These are so overdue in our community,” City Council member Ashley Vanorny said. “Even for Hatch Development, specifically, to be offering that in one of the most desired locations — in NewBo — it offers a different opportunity we don’t yet have in Cedar Rapids.

“This is what we need,” she added. “This is what we are starving for in Cedar Rapids.”

The City Council lent its support to the projects Tuesday as the developers apply for low-income housing tax credits through the Iowa Finance Authority. The developers will learn if the applications are successful in May.

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Hatch Development has scaled back ArtTech, 455 16th Ave. SE, from $23 million to $20 million, split the campus into two buildings rather than one, and added more affordable units. The modern-looking campus would feature the Iowa Startup Accelerator, provide housing for program participants, coworking space, a segment of bike trail and potentially a public-private parking facility.

One of the buildings would include 43 affordable housing units and three market-rate rentals. The second building would have 58 market-rate units.

The city agreed at the meeting to provide a 20-year, 100 percent tax break worth an estimated $3.5 million.

“We wanted to build a building that was truly special, but financing has made it difficult,” said Jack Hatch, of Hatch Development.

He said the hope is to secure private financing for the second building and construct both at the same time.

Cedar Rapids helped lobby the Iowa Finance Authority to consider the project even though it is in a flood plain, which is typically a deal-breaker, said Caleb Mason, a city economic development official.

Near Kirkwood, Woda Cooper of Columbus, Ohio, is proposing a $9.1 million project, which would be the second phase of an apartment complex called Anderson Greene, 55 Miller Ave. SW, which is due to begin construction this year. The first complex would have 44 units, 39 of them deemed affordable. The company specializes in affordable housing development.

The city has agreed to provide a 10-year, 100 percent tax exemption with an estimated value of $574,731.

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Also at the meeting, City Council backed a proposed “green” development with “net zero” energy usage.

BraineTrust Storage LLC’s $6.3 million project would include demolition of an existing commercial space at 1005 Third Ave. SW near Veterans Memorial Stadium and put in a three-story, self-storage facility.

smoking ban OK’D

The council also approved a smoking ban in city parks restricting smoking within 30 feet of buildings as well as playgrounds, splash pads and scheduled kids’ activities, among other restrictions.

l Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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