Already a subscriber? Log in
- Unparalleled business coverage of the Iowa City / Cedar Rapids corridor.
- Immediate access to subscriber-only content on our website.
- 26 issues per year delivered digitally, in print or both.
- Support locally owned and operated journalism.
Debi Durham took the opportunity to reference Greek mythology Thursday, Nov. 16 as developers gathered with local and state officials for the grand opening of CR Brickstone, a new affordable housing development in the heart of Cedar Rapids. “The resiliency of the mythical phoenix is a testament to the wonders that can arise from challenges,” said Ms. Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and the Iowa Finance Authority. “As you may know, the phoenix stands as a symbol of rebirth and renewal. Just as the mythical bird gracefully emerges from its own ashes, the community of Cedar Rapids has risen above the trials of navigating one natural disaster after another. And many of those will find a home in this beautiful new brickstone.” Cedar Rapids City Council member Dale Todd, regional development director of the Hatch Development team that helped lead the construction of the 44-unit complex at 627 Sixth St. SE, noted that the site formerly served as a “graveyard” for trucks from the nearby downtown post office. Noting that the CR Brickstone project broke ground in October 2022, Mr. Todd said, “who would have thought that, almost less than a year (later), we’d have a building like this?” The Cedar Rapids City Council voted in November to establish an Urban Revitalization Area for the site to propel development of the four-story, 44-unit multifamily affordable housing project, according to council documents. Under the development agreement, the city is providing a 10-year, 100% tax exemption of increased value generated by the project, followed by a 5-year, 100% reimbursement of tax increments. The development, with a total estimated cost of $12.2 million, comprises 34 units for tenants at or below 60% of the region’s Area Median Income (AMI) and another 10 units for tenants at or below 40% of the regional AMI. The building includes a mix of one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units. A minimum of 10% of the units are also being reserved for tenants who are aging out of the foster care system, and a supportive services agreement has been established with Foundation 2 Crisis Services to provide on-site services for clients. More units could be utilized for that specific purpose as demand warrants, developers say. Emily Blomme, chief executive officer for Foundation 2, said she reached out to city officials in 2017 inquiring about housing options for people aging out of foster care, and was told there were no such options available at that time. She said she’s grateful that the Brickstone project has finally come to fruition to address that longstanding housing need, noting that Foundation 2 will have office space in the facility to meet with its client residents and that stable housing is key to transitioning from foster care to working and living independently. “We’re looking forward to this partnership, and we’re grateful for the support,” Ms. Blomme said. Speakers at Thursday’s groundbreaking noted that the development is not only addressing the city’s ongoing effort to provide more affordable housing, but providing a boost to individuals aging out of foster care, for whom independent housing options have traditionally been limited. “We often hear about how the government should fix and the city should do,” Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell said. “And yes, we have an absolute role to play, and we need to be at the table. But the real magic happens when you get public and private aligned on a common goal and a common vision. And this is exactly that.” The first tenants are expected to begin moving into the building later this month, according to Mike Kiernan of the Hatch Kiernan Galloway Development Group. All units are expected to be leased by spring, he added. The project was developed jointly by the Hatch Kiernan Galloway Development Group and Perennial Properties, with partners including Aspect Architecture, Hall & Hall Engineers, WNC, Iowa Trust & Savings Bank, the Iowa Finance Authority, Iowa Economic Development Authority, City of Cedar Rapids, Foundation 2 and Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance.