CORALVILLE — The Coralville City Council on Tuesday night gave a big boost to affordable housing in the city with its support of a new building at the “808 on 5th” development.
The council OK’d the newest building in the complex, clearing the way for it to receive workforce housing tax credits from the state and $1,000 in support per unit.
The city also agreed to buy land at 411, 413 and 415 10th Ave. for $1.25 million, with the intention of demolishing the existing buildings and selling the land to the 808 on 5th developer.
That developer, Blaine Thomas, owner of Blue Sky Developers, said the new building, at 608 Fifth St., will have about 125,000 square feet of residential space with 100 units of affordable housing.
Thomas said he also plans to add a commons area as a gathering place for those living in the complex.
Thomas said the workforce housing tax credit and the city’s support allows “time for the building to stabilize so it can afford to pay for itself.”
Thomas said he prefers building workforce housing in Coralville since the city — because of its “progressive nature” — often financially supports projects like his.
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“If I am able to offer people a better life, I take great pride and joy in that,” Thomas said. “A people-first mentality is what has allowed me to participate in multimillion dollar developments.”
He expects to begin building the units next spring.
Next July, city officials expect to sell the three 10th Avenue properties to Thomas, where he plans to build more residential units.
Coralville City Attorney Kevin Olson said the city, in the past, has purchased land and then immediately sold it to a developer about two or three times in his 17-year tenure. He said such action encourages development since developers don’t have to demolish old structures themselves.
In all, the city expects to spend $1.3 million on the properties, which is what 808 on 5th has agreed to pay the city for the land.
“Essentially, it’s a wash for the city, other then we’re responsible for the demolition,” Mayor John Lundell said.
The city will begin by demolishing and removing asbestos in the Szechwan Village restaurant and the old Herky Building. However, the current owner, Bob Fox, plans to continue to use the warehouse on the land until the sale closes on July 1, 2017.
Council members Jill Dodds, Tom Gill and Laurie Goodrich voted in support of both resolutions. Council members Mitch Gross and Bill Hoeft were absent.