The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Forging ahead in flood-damaged New Bo, Czech Village and Time Check: a Neighborhood Development Corp. with a $1.5-million infusion of state cash is coming

In City Hall, Neighborhoods on March 25, 2009 at 1:00 pm

The City Council has created a new non-profit corporation, the Neighborhood Development Corp., and, in so doing, the council will funnel $1.5 million in state grant money to the endeavor.

Carol Bower, who has run a similar non-profit corporation in Des Moines and who has been providing advice to the city of Cedar Rapids since the fall, has been chosen to run the Cedar Rapids operation.

In conversations Wednesday with Bower and Marty Hoeger, the city of Cedar Rapids’ real estate development coordinator, the two said the new Neighborhood Development Corp. will become a driving force behind reinvestment in the city’s core neighborhoods, particularly those now trying to get back on their feet since the June 2008 flood.

The operation will focus on helping bring about the building of affordable housing, but look for it to concentrate, too, on revitalizing neighborhood commercial development as well.

Hoeger said the commercial development effort is likely to focus on Czech Village, New Bohemia and the Ellis Boulevard area of Time Check.

“The idea is to get businesses back into those neighborhoods,” Hoeger said.

Look for the Neighborhood Development Corp. to quickly identify properties in need of redevelopment and, in some instances, to acquire the property and “get it back online,” said Hoeger.

The corporation will operate independently of the city of Cedar Rapids. It will have a nine-person board. Three of the members will be from neighborhoods; four will be people in the business community familiar with development; and an elected official or employee from both the city and county governments will round out the board.

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