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Archive for April 8th, 2009|Daily archive page

Brick’s Bar & Grill finds soft spot at City Hall; council asks police chief to negotiate if he turns up nothing beyond shaky liquor license application

In City Hall, Downtown District on April 8, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Brick’s Bar & Grill, 320 Second Ave. SE, got some sympathy from the City Council last night and may be able to renew its liquor license.

The bar’s owner, Jade Hronik, stumbled into problems with the Police Department for, as Police Chief Greg Graham said last night, not being truthful on her liquor license application.

Graham cited three specifics on the license renewal application in which Hronik, who signed the document, did not report her own prior intoxication arrest and the felony arrests in 2006 of two others connected to the bar.

In her own defense, Hronik noted that she purchased and renovated the downtown Brick’s after the June flood, and that she had correctly filled out paperwork in September on the bar and for another drinking establishment in the city.

She said her license renewal application at Brick’s was incomplete, not untruthful, and she said she had not paid sufficient attention to it but had another person handle it.

Council members Tom Podzimek and Monica Vernon asked Graham to look at Hronik’s earlier liquor applications and see if they, in fact, supported Hronik’s position.

Council member Brian Fagan asked Graham if he would be willing to meet with Hronik, if all else is in order, to see if he can create a consequence for the untruthfulness short of a license denial. Graham, who said consequences are important, said he would be willing to do so.

In any event, should the council ultimately deny a license to Brick’s, the bar can stay open as it appeals to the state’s Alcohol Beverages Division. Appeals can take up to a year to resolve.

The Police Department in recent weeks convinced the City Council to block the renewal of a liquor license for The Tycoon, which is just down the block from Brick’s. The Tycoon, which did not move to renew its license in timely fashion, now has a probationary license and has agreed to better police its bar customers in an agreement with the Police Department.

One route to property-tax relief for flood victims closes; still can qualify if 65 or older or totally disabled and have income below $20,031

In Floods, Linn County government on April 8, 2009 at 12:56 pm

They wanted to. They did it. But they can’t, Gary Jarvis, assistant Linn County Attorney, told the Linn County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday.

The upshot: Owners of flood-damaged property, for now, will face property-tax bills based on the pre-flood value of their properties, and they also will face a county tax sale of their property in June if they don’t pay the tax bill.

Jarvis told the supervisors on Wednesday that their decision last week to suspend the property taxes of flood victim Dana Spore of Cedar Rapids was an incorrect one. He said the particular section of state law on which the supervisors relied limits such tax suspensions to those 65 or older or those totally disabled. The intent of the longstanding state law is to not force the elderly and totally disabled to lose their property for not paying taxes. The unpaid taxes are then recouped when the person dies and the property is sold, Jarvis said.

After Jarvis’ presentation, the supervisors reluctantly rescinded the tax suspension they had granted a week before.

Jarvis recommended that the supervisors watch and wait as the Iowa Legislature finishes its session in the next couple of weeks to see if state lawmakers will provide some property-tax relief for flood victims.

Supervisor Linda Langston said the supervisors then will have time to revisit the property-tax matter to see if they want to adopt some sort of tax abatement procedure for taxes due later this year.

The supervisors are in no rush to make any big moves because the tax revenue of cities and schools as well as the county are tied to any decision by the supervisors to abate property taxes. State law puts these decisions in the supervisors’ hands.

Langston said one good thing about granting last week’s tax suspension, which has now been rescinded, is that several people contacted the supervisors who qualify for a suspension of property taxes because they are 65 or older or are disabled.

Unpaid property taxes send a property to the Treasurer’s Office tax sale in June. Investors pay the taxes, collect interest on the amount and then can assume ownership of the property if the owner doesn’t pay the taxes and interest within two years.

Empty, flood-damaged Roosevelt may begin its return to life within a month

In City Hall on April 8, 2009 at 9:14 am

Renovation of The Roosevelt in downtown Cedar Rapids is readying to begin, developer Sherman Associates reports.

The former hotel turned apartment complex in the heart of downtown has been out of commission since the June 2008 flood.

Jackie Nickolaus, Sherman Associates vice president in Urbandale, Iowa, says that Sherman Associates finalized its purchase of The Roosevelt in December for $2.2 million.

She said that financing for the renovation should be in place by the end of April, and renovation of the building will begin immediately after that. Much of the funding is coming from federal affordable-housing tax credits, though the City Council also is providing some financial incentives. The council will address its loan commitment to the project at its April 22 meeting, Nickolaus says.

Sherman Associates’ renovation plan will turn some of old hotel’s small, efficiency apartments into larger ones and covert what had been commercial and office space on the second floor into apartments. The first floor will remain commercial space.

In total, the building will have 96 apartments, 90 of them designated as affordable.

Sherman Associates, headquartered in Minneapolis and a prolific developer and property manager, was the first to come to Cedar Rapids and use the term “work force housing” in place of affordable housing.

Income guidelines for affordable housing requires that someone have a job, and the guidelines are broad enough to apply to many people in the work force, Sherman Associates and the City Council now repeatedly point out.

Nickolaus says the first tenants should be back in The Roosevelt within six months of the start of construction. She adds that Sherman Associates is now negotiating with two first-floor commercial tenants.