The Clinton Community School District wants to preserve “historical charm.”
Community Housing Initiatives wants to add another housing option to a market with limited diversity.
Both parties are hoping to facilitate economic growth, which is why securing a Community Development Block Grant is crucial to renovating the Roosevelt building.
“Everyone I’ve talked to has told me how difficult it is to find housing in Clinton,” said Sam Erickson, CHI vice president, during Wednesday’s school board meeting. “This is just a wonderful opportunity to maximize that use.”
Within the Clinton Schools Administrative Center, Erickson showcased “very preliminary” plans, calling for 16 apartments (13 one-bedroom, three two-bed) within the historic 1888 structure on South Fourth Street. The development is currently estimated as a $4.7 million investment, $3 million of which Erickson and CHI hope can be covered by the CDBG.
If everything goes according to plan, the former high school, elementary and administrative building could be rented out as soon as March 2016. Standing in the way is a competitive economic development grant, the last such that will be granted.
Clinton has never obtained such a grant, Erickson said, a reason she feels confident CHI’s bid has a good shot.
Complicating matters, though, is the fact that last month, the Clinton City Council approved two corporations to go to bid for the CDBG. The fear is that CHI and fellow hopeful Dan Dolan Homes will put each other out of the running through the competition.
Without the grant, Erickson said the Roosevelt development won’t happen.
“This is the only financing source that I’m aware of that will make a building of this particular size and layout work,” Erickson said. “I’ve tried to make the other sources work because I love the building.”
Superintendent Deb Olson reiterated her excitement from earlier this week. If everything falls into place, she feels the district can play economic facilitator in a major way for Clinton.
“Like I said before, it’s a win-win,” Olson said. “For us, somebody wants to use the building. The building is going to be an asset to our community versus something that’s going to sit there and not be used. It’s a perfect example of how we can work with the city to better our community.”
The board set a public hearing date for Aug. 11 with a unanimous vote to sell the property. CHI will purchase Roosevelt for $5,000 through an option agreement.
Meanwhile, CHI has until September to finalize development plans and submit a proposal to the Iowa Economic Development Authority. CDBG hearings will take place in Dubuque County with awards announced in January.
Erickson said construction would commence in May 2015, with 10 months to a year slated for building.
Roosevelt has always been an enticing option for developers, she said. Located near numerous amenities, the building is close to ideal, Erickson said.
“It’s even more prominent than it probably was even 30 years ago,” said Erickson, adding the renovation could be a “lynch pin” for kick-starting numerous historic renovations downtown. “It’s a pretty fierce, competitive funding source, but I think there are some things working in our favor.