Discover Hope commended by city for partnering in hatchery site project

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May 8—Discover Hope 517 was formally commended by the Newton City Council on May 1 for partnering with the developers of the former hatchery site, which needed to find a local nonprofit that would submit and fill out a "complicated" Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) application required for the project.

According to council documents, the city felt the faith-based addiction recovery center and its board of directors deserved commendation "for their extraordinary 11th hour efforts" in the form of a resolution. Doing so improved developer Pivotal Housing Partners' chances of receiving tax credits from Iowa Finance Authority.

Pivotal Housing Partners solicited every qualified non-profit Community Housing Development Organization in Iowa with an offer to partner on the project, city documents say. This would provide the project additional points on its LIHTC application. In the past, the developer was just short on points to receive funds.

The application was submitted to the Iowa Finance Authority in advance of the April 19 deadline. The resolution states that the council and the city commends the board of directors of Discover Hope for their "extraordinary efforts" to create a local CHDO and for their commitment to the betterment of affordable housing.

The properties known colloquially as the hatchery site at 1117 N. Third Ave. E. and 211 E. 12th St. N. were purchased by Pivotal Housing Partners, which wants to turn the lots into an apartment complex with at least 40 workforce housing units. The developer noted in March that it wanted to re-apply for tax credits.

Newton Community Development Director Erin Chambers said at a past meeting that the project meets two strategic objectives in the city's comprehensive plan:

—Focus economic development efforts on population and business growth by simultaneously supporting existing employers while attracting new employers and supporting citizens working remotely.

—Elevate Newton's curb appeal, with a focus on primary corridors, through improvements to both public and private spaces.

"This project would specifically support workforce housing and provide a much needed product in our community," Chambers said to council members. "Of course, over the past 10 years or so housing has been an important part of this city council's desired outcomes for our community."

Other developers have shown little to no interest in this particular site, which is only a few blocks away from First Avenue. The land had typography issues and has an awkward arrangement. Chambers said these factors have been a challenge when talking with developers.

"The current offering developer has been one of the first ones who really has put together a clean and solid plan," she said.