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

Another idea for affordable housing near Ellis Park isn’t going to work; city bought the land with state REAP grant to prevent it from being developed

In City Hall on July 16, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Another proposal — this one made public just a month ago — to build affordable housing in and around Ellis Park is apparently going to bite the dust quickly.

Johnny Brown of J Brown Development Group of Cedar Rapids had pitched an idea to build two buildings with 30 affordable apartments each on a 6-acre, tree-filled city site between Ellis Lane and the Ellis Park.

Brown was calling his idea Ellis Preserve. Bart Woods, president of Primus Construction, was working with him on some of the planning.

However, Julie Sina, the city’s parks and recreation director, reports that the city purchased the land in question with a state REAP — Resource Enhancement and Protection — grant to prevent to it from being developed.

Sina says the city would need to talk to state officials to see if it is possible and what the ramifications would be if the city now decided to sell the land purchased with REAP dollars.

“The city of Cedar Rapids Parks and Recreation Department has a good relationship with REAP and has received funding over many years for the preservation of land,” Sina says. “… The Parks and Recreation Department does not support the sale of this piece of property.”

Brown says the status of the city property isn’t lessening his concern for people who he says remain displaced by last year’s flood and still need affordable housing.

“There are a lot of families who are suffering,” Brown says. “And we’ve got to do something to help our fellow citizens. That’s who I am.

“We’ve got people who are hurting, and it doesn’t seem to register on anybody’s radar screen. But it’s going to stay on mine.”

An earlier plan by another developer to put affordable housing nearby on the former 6-acre practice chipping area next to Ellis Golf Course fell apart in the face of neighbor opposition.

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  1. GOOD, GOOD, GOOD. I brought the REAP problem up the day I heard the location of the PROPOSED complex

  2. Mr Brown, if I read your statement correctly you would make no money off the FLOOD to help people who are still suffering?

    That is very noble of yourself, but I am sure your development company would fair quite nicely. As were/are the so called non-profit 501b’s (Ithink)

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