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Work is progressing as scheduled on transforming the former Colonial building in downtown Cedar Rapids into an affordable housing complex. Cedar Rapids housing services manager Sara Buck told the Cedar Rapids City Council Sept. 12 that a general contractor is in place for the project at 1500 Second Ave. SE, now known as the Heights, and renovation work on the building is already well under way. She said interior demolition of the building has already been completed, including the removal of interior walls, mold and asbestos. Interior framing work and external repairs are now in process, she said. The city originally planned to transform the building in Cedar Rapids’ Wellington Heights neighborhood into a community resource center and emergency shelter, but that plan was later abandoned, and in November 2022, the Cedar Rapids City Council approved a plan to use $2.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to transform the long-vacant Colonial building into affordable housing. The adaptive reuse plan will transform the former Colonial Centre into 25 affordable housing units, six of which will be fully accessible for residents with mobility challenges. The city intends for the units to be occupied by those making 60% to 80% of the area’s median income, Ms. Buck said. The exterior design of the Colonial Centre affordable housing project will be consistent with the standards of the area’s historic district, city development director Jennifer Pratt said in November 2022. “That is an important part of this project,” Ms. Pratt told the council, adding that the project will be “pedestrian friendly in keeping with the character of the neighborhood.” Several funding sources are being used for the $6.9 million project, Ms. Buck said, including Community Development Block Grant pandemic relief and city entitlement funds, HOME American Rescue Plan funds and federal American Rescue Plan Act funds allocated to the city. About $2.8 million has been spent on the project so far, she said. Remaining work on the project includes exterior brick replacement, installation of new windows and doors, interior finishes and plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems, exterior landscaping and installation of a generator. The overall budget for the project has been increased by about $500,000 due to various issues uncovered during the renovation process, Ms. Buck said, but that overage is included in the project’s contingency plan. “The sheeting on the exterior had much more water damage than what we had anticipated,” she said. “And obviously with the city owning this building and renovating it, we want to ensure that the building will last for a very long time.” Once the renovation project is completed, the city plans to issue a Request for Qualification to transfer ownership of the property to a nonprofit organization, “ensuring ongoing (compliance) with performance measures and accountability.” The city anticipates turning the building over to a nonprofit agency for ongoing operation by March 2024, Ms. Buck said.