CommonBond Communities, a nonprofit affordable housing organization out of St. Paul, Minn., is developing Crestwood Ridge Apartments at 1200 Edgewood Rd. NW in Cedar Rapids.
The $9.1 million project was awarded a federal tax credit worth $8 million as a homeless housing demonstration site because it will devote 10 percent of its 45 units for permanent housing for the chronically homeless, as well as provide on-site case management by workers from the Willis Dady Emergency Shelter.
The project surfaced in 2016 but received pushback from neighbors fearing increased traffic, safety risks and stormwater runoff. While many neighbors disputed the characterization, the project became a symbol of “nimbyism” or “not in my backyard” and became a lightening rod in Cedar Rapids.
Under pressure, the Cedar Rapids City Council rejected the necessary rezoning in October 2016. The plan was reintroduced several months later, addressing some concerns but still generating neighborhood opposition.
The City Council reversed course and approved the rezoning in June 2017.
What’s Happened Since
“We spent the summer months finalizing plans, making sure we were meeting deadlines with the Iowa Finance Authority and finalizing financing,” said Justin Eilers, senior project manager for CommonBond.
CommonBond bought the 1.98 acre empty lot from the city for $280,000 on July 25, with proceeds going to the fire department budget. Before the sale, the property had been part of the same parcel as fire station No. 3.
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In September, the city awarded a 10-year, 100 percent exemption of taxes — worth an estimated $307,640 — to the project.
Eilers said construction began in September, and as of this month, the foundation has been poured and the basic framework of the building is up. Completion is anticipated this summer or early fall, likely in August or September.
The project continues on track to be eligible for the tax credits, including closing on the property before last August and opening by the end of 2018.
The organization is taking some calls from people interested in a unit, Eilers said. The hotline to get on the list is (651) 290-6228, Eilers said. Interest should pick up as the company begins marketing the property about 120 days before opening.
The units will be assigned as follows: 29 units to be rented to those making 60 percent of the area’s median income or below; seven units at 40 percent of the area median income or below; five units at 30 percent of the area median income or below, which will be for homeless families; and four units at market rate.
The rents will be $489 to $596 for a one bedroom; $575 to $689 for two bedrooms; and $829 for three bedrooms, Eilers said.
Willis Dady and CommonBond will review applications for the homeless units, including whether the applicants meet income guidelines and whether applicant are ready for such a move.
Eilers said preference will be given to those applying early.
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