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Older Neighborhood to Get First New Homes in Decades

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - It's a rebirth in an old Cedar Rapids neighborhood with the first new single family homes planned for a core part of Wellington Heights in perhaps 50 years.

Four Oaks, Affordable Housing Network, Skogman Homes and Neighborhood Development Corporation announced the new infill construction project on Friday with the signing of the application documents with the first homeowners. Five new homes in all will go up in a core 18-block area of Wellington Heights. Organizers say later construction projects may take place on the edges of the Wellington Heights neighborhood. But they believe this is the first new construction of single family homes in that older core area in half a century.

Construction should begin in May on the first home at 1402 4th Avenue SE. That's a vacant lot where another structure once stood. All five proposed home sites are vacant lots where the existing housing was removed.

Josh and Alyssa Hulme signed the documents to become the first owners of a new single family home in the area. The Hulmes already live in rented housing in Wellington Heights and wanted to stay in the neighborhood.

Skogman Homes will construct four of the new houses with the Affordable Housing Network building the other one.

Hunter Skogman, project manager for Skogman Homes, said the homes will cost about $150,000 to build. But the cost to those who qualify would be only about $85,000 to $90,000. The difference comes from various incentive programs for those who qualify to buy down the cost of the affordable housing.

But Skogman said there is a time catch. State authorities have told the city they want commitments from qualified buyers by April 15 to start construction. With only one buyer selected so far, Skogman said there is some rush to find four others who would qualify based on income, family size and other factors.

Affordable Housing Network managers said one goal of the program is to jump start residential construction interest in the near southeast side neighborhood. Currently only 40 percent of homes in Wellington Heights are owner-occupied. Housing manager said a figure of 60 percent or more is a sign of a healthier neighborhood.

While the homes will be new construction, they will be designed to blend in to the neighborhood with porches and other features more in line with homes already there.

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