The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

January 11, 2013

LEVINE: Clinton on right track with housing developments

By Scott Levine
Associate Editor

CLINTON — For anyone who complains about newspapers only printing negative news, I hope they picked pick up a Clinton Herald this past week.

If you were one of the thousands who did read our daily product, you read three (and if you pick up Saturday’s, it will be four) stories about a step in the right direction for this city.

Three housing developments made news this week, with one structure nearing completion, and two more preparing to assist current and future residents with their housing needs. All three housing options address a specific need and target groups that have been overlooked in this community.

The Village Cooperative is almost complete and will house senior citizens, the West Heights Townhomes will service low-income families and if city officials work out an agreement with a Cedar Rapids group, the Wilson building in downtown will become a residential apartment complex focused on high-end rentals.

That is serious progress for a city that has a glaring housing problem.

When I was hired almost five years ago as Associate Editor, the housing options were dreadful. We were new to the area, and weren’t looking to buy a house at the moment. By the time our first session of house-hunting ended, my wife was in tears, wondering why I was making her move here.

The second trip to town turned out differently for us. A friend who lives in the area stepped up and helped us find a home to rent that we currently own.

We were lucky.

Most people in our predicament don’t have those connections. That’s why these developments are major improvements to Clinton.

These are three separate entities that cater to different categories of dwellers. Sure, there are quite a few options for seniors living in town, but obviously there is demand, considering the Village Cooperative is reporting that only nine homes, of the 44 units available, are still available. And this unit is bringing in people from out of state, according to developers.

The West Heights Townhomes will be a great opportunity for low-income residents searching for affordable, clean homes. This should fill up fast, and it provides to the growing activity occurring along the 13th Avenue North and 14th Avenue Northwest corridor.

And last, but not least, the high-end apartments that may land in the Wilson building would fill a need that hasn’t been addressed since I moved to Clinton. Working professionals not ready to buy a house are given limited options. I implore the City Council to work out a fair deal with developers to assist in making the Wilson building a new attraction for incoming professionals.

This is how communities grow. Whether this would spur more development and resources in the downtown area, I don’t know. But it’s a step in the right direction, especially with the Thomson, Ill., prison now more likely than ever to become a major force in producing more residents in the area.

Clinton needs something that will set it apart from other communities when that happens. These three developments will fill up fast, and if the Thomson prison ever comes to fruition, who knows what would be next in the race to provide quality housing.

What I do know is that future residents won’t have to look hard to find housing options.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at He has been employed with the Herald since 2008.