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

Two new neighborhood development corps. aren’t quite dueling; one has money; one is focused on Oakhill Jackson/New Bohemia

In City Hall on April 13, 2009 at 11:02 am

The city of Cedar Rapids had no non-profit neighborhood development corporations a month ago. It has two now. They aren’t quite dueling development outfits, but almost.

One of the new non-profit corporations is called the Neighborhood Development Corp. of Cedar Rapids is the one with deep pockets. The City Council has endorsed it, and as importantly, the council has steered $1.5 million in state Community Disaster Grant Program.

Carol Bower, the new director of NDC of Cedar Rapids, has run a similar operation in the city of Des Moines.
She reports that her new Cedar Rapids organization now has four of its nine board members in place. They are attorney Bill Prowell, developer/builder Bart Woods, architect/developer/downtown property owner Steve Emerson, and banker Bruce Anderson. One of the nine board members will be a City Council member.

Bower expects to announce the location of the NDC of Cedar Rapids’ new office at the board’s April 22 meeting.

She has found three spaces that are ready to occupy: two of them are in the downtown and one is in Czech Village, she says. She also has looked at available spaces in Wellington Heights, Oakhill Jackson and Time Check.

Eventually, Bower says she envisions the NDC of Cedar Rapids purchasing a building in a flood-damaged neighborhood and having the organization’s office on the ground flood and affordable housing above it.
One of the focuses of the NDC of Cedar Rapids will be to buy neighborhood commercial property and redevelop it.

Bower has now moved to Cedar Rapids.

If she had her druthers, she wishes that the other new neighborhood development corporation, the Oakhill Jackson New Bohemia Neighborhood Development Corp., would have used a name other than “neighborhood development corporation.”

It’s like having two Gazette newspapers in the same city, she says.

Last week, the OJNBNDC got some attention here after it created itself and elected officers. Dale Todd, former council member, is president; Scott Jamieson, CEO of Horizons helping services agency, is vice president; Michael Richards, president of the Oakhill Jackson Neighborhood Association is secretary; and Fred Timko, president/CEO of Point Builders Inc. and developer of BottleWorks Loft Condos, is treasurer.

Jamieson said the purpose of OJNBNDC is to get moving on issues in the neighborhood without having to depend on City Hall to take some action. By creating the non-profit structure, the group hopes to position itself for disaster-relief funding.

The group intends to work with other efforts and is not opposed to taking help from City Hall, from the NDC of Cedar Rapids or anyone else, Jamieson said.

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