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Onetime Cedar Rapids problem property looking better

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CEDAR RAPIDS — A one-time “problem property” in northeast Cedar Rapids could end up a model for the entire Mound View Neighborhood. The apartment, or rooming house, at 110 16th Street N.E. racked up so many housing code violations the city ordered it boarded up and a new owner purchased the property last May.

Another issue with the building, before the ownership change, was the number of times police responded to criminal complaints at the address. City officials tallied up 33 responses to criminal complaints at that address over an eight-month period from October of 2013 to June of 2014. That earned it the reputation as the number one criminal complaint property in the entire city.

The closure last May left a number of tenants looking for a new place to live.

But Amanda Grieder, nuisance property abatement coordinator for the SAFE-CR program, says the transformation that's taken place since is startling. The exterior of the property has undergone a complete transformation and it's getting noticed by many in the neighborhood just off First Avenue N.E.

Grieder said it could be the number one success, so far, of the community policing program that aims to limit or reduce police calls by focusing on safety, health and property code violations.

Clint Price is the owner of the property who took over in May. Price didn't want to discuss details or show off the still-unfinished interior.

But neighborhood leaders believe the building may have just a handful of apartment units when finished as opposed to the 15 rental rooms it offered when it closed.

John Lint rented one of those rooms until last fall. He said the change is night and day.

“It's beautiful now, it's beautiful now. I think it will be a real asset to the community,” Lint said.

Grieder, the city official, echoed that sentiment.

“I think the exterior looks great and we've gotten positive feedback from the neighborhood association. So we're happy to assist them with any of the problems they have,” she said.

Grieder said one hope with the transformation of that one-time problem property is it could spark other positive changes in the area. She could see some nearby owners fixing up their properties in response.

Carol Sindelar, a member of the Mound View Neighborhood Association, said at best one big success could jump start a lot of positive changes in the entire area. But she also said looking good on the outside is one thing. Running a good rental property is another.

“It really depends on how well it's managed. If the landlord manages it well, keeps it up and keeps an eye on tenants and abides by abatement codes it should be fine. It should be a great addition to the neighborhood,” Sindelar said.

And as renovation progresses, Sindelar added neighbors will eagerly watch to see if this one-time problem property truly becomes a neighborhood asset.

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