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

Archive for June 10th, 2009|Daily archive page

City secures Iowa Power Fund grant to help with its 21st Century Green Energy Project; one day burning sewage sludge and garbage may produce steam here

In City Hall on June 10, 2009 at 4:22 pm

The city on Wednesday secured a $253,406 Iowa Power Fund grant to help finance the city’s plans for a 21st Century Green Energy Project.

The city must match the grant.

Greg Eyerly, the city’s utility operations manager, on Wednesday said the city also secured a $1.29 million federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant award in April to help in the city’s energy planning.

He said the city is studying how it might replace the old incinerator at its Water Pollution Control facility, which has been temporarily brought back to life after last year’s flood, with a system that could burn sewage sludge, other kinds of biomass and municipal garbage and at the same time generate steam energy for the downtown and elsewhere.

“It’s viable,” said Eyerly, who is among five candidates competing for the city’s flood-recovery director post. “St. Paul, Minn., is doing it, and we have better and more-reliable fuel sources than they do. It’s why we are studying it.”

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Long-expected renovation of the flood-damaged Roosevelt gets more tax-credit help; work could start by month’s end

In City Hall on June 10, 2009 at 3:27 pm

The renovation of The Roosevelt, the flood-damaged apartment complex that once was a hotel, may now begin by month’s end, Jackie Nickolaus, vice president of developer Sherman Associates, said Wednesday.

Nickolaus was providing the project update as the Iowa Finance Authority, which met in Cedar Rapids, approved an additional $804,750 in affordable housing tax credits to help fund the renovation project.

Sherman Associates earlier had secured $5.985 million in tax credits from the state authority, but on Wednesday returned to ask for a supplemental grant.

Nickolaus said the additional tax credits were needed to cover additional costs for environmental testing and cleanup, elevator restoration, some demolition and pipe and mechanical system replacement.

The hope, she said, is to move tenants into the 12-story building’s top three floors six months after renovation starts. The project should be complete in a year, Nickolaus said.

The renovation will convert non-residential space on the building’s second floor into apartments, but will retain the first floor as commercial space. “Quite a few” possible commercial tenants have looked at the first floor, Nickolaus said.

In late April, Sherman Associates, of Minneapolis, Minn., put the total cost of the renovation at $10.3 million. The city has given the project a 30-year, $1.6-million loan at 1 percent interest, though the loan will lessen to $1 million if and when the project also secures historic tax credits.

Affordable housing projects dependent on federal tax credits have had difficulty getting started in recent months because of the economy. Nickolaus said Sherman Associates has investors to buy the credits for The Roosevelt project.

With tax credits, investors contribute money to a project upfront in exchange for credit against their taxes over a period of 10 years. Of late, the investors have only been willing to provide about 70 percent in upfront money of the tax-credit value they will receive. In better economic times, projects have received more than 90 percent of the tax-credit value in upfront cash, state officials have said.

Sherman Associates bought The Roosevelt in December for $2.2 million.

City will try once again to sell surplus city property next to Ellis Golf Course; relax, though; no apartments; two $72,500 lots for high-end homes

In City Hall on June 10, 2009 at 2:57 pm

The city has had the idea of selling excess city property for a couple years now, and last night the City Council agreed to sell some.

In one instance, the council will sell two quarter-acre lots in the 2100 block of 20th Street NW next to the city’s Ellis Park Golf Course.

Rita Rasmussen, the city’s senior real estate officer, said each of the lots is appraised at $72,500, and she said the city anticipates that single-family homes will be built on them. The city will accept sealed bids on the lots.

By the way, the two lots are not part of a 6-acre city parcel that used to be home to the golf course’s practice chipping area. Late last year, a developer gave up on a proposal to build affordable apartments on the chipping-area after neighbors in single-family residents objected.

The council last night also approved the sale of a .45-acre site at 6900 Council St. NE. The city earlier had purchased the property, which at the time had a house and garage on it, for $216,000. The city demolished the buildings, carved off some of the land to widen the intersection at Council Street NE and Boyson Road NE, and now is reselling what is left.

Rasmussen said the city must give the previous owner right of first refusal, and the previous owner wants to buy it. The land now is appraised at $115,000, she said.