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Developer Wants to Build 30 Rent-to-Own Homes, Many Near Taylor Elementary

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The Des Moines developer of the Oakhill Jackson Brickstones, two affordable apartment houses built on Sixth Street SE to replace housing lost in the 2008 flood, wants to build 30 west-side homes in a program designed to turn renters into homeowners.

Hatch Development Group, headed by Iowa State Sen. Jack Hatch, will be competing with other projects across Iowa in an effort to secure affordable housing tax credits to provide much of the funding for the $9.1 million Cedar Rapids project. A decision by the Iowa Finance Authority will come by June 2013.

As part of the financing package for the 30 homes, Hatch is asking the city of Cedar Rapids to donate now-city-owned lots that once housed flood-damaged homes. Most are in the Taylor Elementary School area of southwest Cedar Rapids. The lots are valued in total at $425,040.

In addition, Hatch wants the city to provide a 15-year, $550,000 loan to the project.

City Manager Jeff Pomeranz noted this week that funds for the loan will come from the incremental increase in property-tax revenue intended for use in the in the tax increment financing district where the lots are located.

The rent-to-own project is similar to an existing one where rent-to-own homes are interspersed with other homes in a development off Zika Avenue NW near the Ellis Golf Course. Rent-to-own programs set aside a portion of a tenant's monthly rent as a way to build up money to allow the renter to one day buy a house.

Hatch proposed a similar project in early 2012, but did not secure funding for it from the Iowa Finance Authority. The authority later concluded it had not scored the project correctly, Hatch has said.

Hatch also proposed an east-side rent-to-own project in 2011, which did not obtain funding.

Hatch's Brickstones project is one of a few Cedar Rapids projects that did win tax-credit funding help from the Iowa Finance Authority in the first year or two after the 2008 flood in Cedar Rapids. Those projects were seen as projects to replace affordable housing lost in the flood.

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