Your Village: What’s happening on the lot next to Big Grove Brewery and Taproom?

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1201 S Gilbert Street, Iowa City, Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. — photo by Zak Neumann

What’s going to be built in the lot immediately north of Big Grove? — Anonymous, via the Your Village feature on LV’s homepage

Checking the archives, it’s been five months since Your Village had a question with this answer — which is a little surprising — but that answer is, of course, apartments. Specifically, a pair of matched five-story, 56-unit apartment buildings, called “The Crossings.” The name is appropriate, since the complex is being built in the Riverfront Crossings District.

Documents filed with the city state that each building will have 35 one-bedroom units, 20 two-bedroom units and one three-bedroom unit. Both buildings will also have underground garages.

Because The Crossings is in the Riverfront Crossings District, the developer must make 10 percent of the units qualify as affordable housing for 10 years, or pay a fee of up to $80,000 per unit. That money would go to the city’s affordable housing fund.

According to the city:

Housing is affordable for households with incomes at or below 80% of the HUD established Area Median Income if residents pay no more than 30% of their gross monthly income for either; rent and utilities or mortgage, principal, interest, insurance and homeowner fees.

The lot north of Big Grove Taproom on South Gilbert Street was the site of Alexander Lumber, and before that it was Nagle Lumber. Nagle Lumber, which was founded in Iowa City in 1922, had been in business for 94 years when it purchased by the Illinois-based Alexander Lumber in 2016.

After selling the Gilbert Street property, Alexander Lumber relocated to Independence Road in southeast Iowa City.

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  1. I have consistently been told that it’s to be a parking lot. I live above The Grooming Den next building north. We’re slated for next July. Am I right that these retail bottomed apartment buildings don’t have to pay property taxes for twenty years? Worth investigation. I am a single person age 58 with less than come1000.00 a month income. I don’t qualify for housing assistance. I am going to be homeless for 4 years unless something changes. So go drink your beer and support Big Grove just because it’s fashionable people. Yes, I’m angry.

    1. don’t be hating on big grove because you have a crappy job. they have some tasty beer! no one says you HAVE to live in iowa city.. i live an hour a way, but drive here for work. cheap cheap. I want to live in Bevery Hills, but i can’t afford it and i’m not butt hurt about it either.

  2. The fine is only $80k? That comes out to $666.67 / month rent over 10 years. If they are able to charge more than that for each unit, I don’t see any incentive for them to actually offer affordable housing in the complex.

    The city should impose $80k per year per unit to really incentivize developers to offer affordable housing.

  3. There are pros and cons of having the developer fulfill their affordable housing obligation to the community on or off site. On site, means that there will be a diversity of people living together throughout the Riverfront Crossing District. It means the developer is directly making this commitment–yet, only for 10 years. 10 years goes by fast. After this time period, the property owner has no obligation to keep these units available for people living on 80% of less of median income (which is quite high–better to make these units available for those living on 50% of 30% of median income).

    The advantage of having the developer make a payment is that it can be combined with other payments made by other developers. Then the city can develop housing in the area and have it permanently be in our affordable housing stock. This could be a stronger long term position.

    I believe that the decision about providing the units or the payment is made by the developer.

  4. I find it hard to believe that we have enough people to occupy all the condos and apartments being built, or already finished.

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