CEDAR RAPIDS — Rickey Osby, 65, says he’s never lived in a brand-new home before.
He’s been “blessed” to live with his children in the Cedar Rapids area in recent months after moving out of Agin Court Apartments in the southwest quadrant of town. But in a few weeks, he’ll move into a place of his own at 69 Miller Ave. SW, where 44 rental units at the new Anderson Greene mixed-income housing development will open.
“It means a lot to me,” said Osby, who will soon move into a three-bedroom unit with his 15- and 11-year-old sons. “ … Seeing my family accomplish that, I feel really good that they are able to see me get us a place like that, so I’m happy.”
Ohio-based developer Woda Cooper Companies’ development brings more rental units for lower-income residents onto the market while Cedar Rapids grapples with a low supply of affordable housing stock.
City officials say the Aug. 10 derecho has only exacerbated the need for affordable housing as some units sustained damage and residents have been displaced.
Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart said the city is committed to making sure that quality affordable housing is available, especially after the devastating storm.
“It’s really important people in Cedar Rapids have a place like this,” Hart said — one that provides safety and stability to community members.
The $8.8 million multifamily rental community offers 39 units for residents at or below 30 percent, 40 percent or 60 percent of the area median income and five units at market rate. Four buildings offer a mix of two- and three-bedroom townhomes and apartments with options for one, two or three bedrooms.
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A $9.4 million second phase of the development, expected to be complete by fall 2021, will include another 48 units.
Iowa Finance Authority Housing Tax Credits are supporting the development for 10 years, with $729,750 allocated annually to the first phase and another $800,663 allocated annually for the second phase.
“This is an incredible property that has so many noteworthy elements — the convenient location, the beautiful and thoughtful project design and the successful use of our tax credits,” said Iowa Finance Authority Executive Director Debi Durham. “But let me also say, these are highly competitive … You have been rewarded because this is your vision and the quality that you bring.”
Nick Surak, Woda Cooper’s senior vice president of development, said the waiting list for a unit at Anderson Greene already is long enough to fill the second phase.
The units boast a large, open-concept design, are accessible to individuals with disabilities and have washers and dryers in each unit. There also is a community space with a fitness center and gathering area for residents, as well as a playground.
There will be an on-site manager and monthly inspections of the units to keep up on housekeeping and maintenance, and to check in with residents, Surak said. Water and internet are included and residents pay for gas and electric, but the units include energy-efficient appliances to help keep utility costs down.
The three-bedroom apartments help fill a demand for affordable larger units in this market, he said.
According to February’s Maxfield Research and Consulting housing analysis, the city’s rental vacancy at the time was 2.2 percent. The study says demand for subsidized rental housing in the Cedar Rapids metro area through 2025 calls for 450 new deep-subsidy units and 751 shallow-subsidy units.
It’ll take several years for the city to build additional affordable housing developments, but there’s already another project in the works.
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Construction will begin in March 2021 and is expected to wrap up by March 2023 on the Annex Group’s $29.4 million development of 180 affordable units at Wiley Boulevard SW, an area hit hard by the derecho.
City Council member Ashley Vanorny, who serves on the city’s Development Committee and represents the district in which Anderson Greene is located, said the spaces will fit the needs of larger families with spacious closets, plentiful external space and secure entrances, to name a few features.
She also said the security features and spaces that foster community gatherings show that the developer understands how communities work.
As Cedar Rapids replenishes its housing stock, she said it will be important to make sure new units are high-quality — and she thinks Anderson Greene sets a standard for affordable housing in the city.
“They look like things that I would want,” Vanorny said of the amenities and quality of the units she toured Wednesday. “And that’s important to me because these are my constituents, so when I look at what do I want for people, I always want housing dignity as much as I want housing security. I don’t want them to live in just any home, any space.”
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