CHARLES CITY, Iowa - Affordable housing is an issue in communities across our area, but there may be a solution in Charles City.
The North Grand Building, which long housed the Charles City Middle School until 2016, currently houses the school district's central offices, Iowa Big North, and a gym that is regularly used by the district. Now, part of the historic building is in the process of being sold to Johnston-based Foutch Brothers, who have had a history of restoring historic school buildings, for $1, and is planning to invest $5 million for restoration.
The plan is to turn the 1930's portion of the building into a market-rate apartment complex, meaning rates will be at levels that the market can support. The complex is slated to have 35-40 units with one and two bedroom apartments, as well as a few studios.
Toni Noah owns a condo across the street from the building, and says it's a great way to preserve the building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
"When you have a building that is beautiful and useful to the community as this is, it's kinda irresponsible not to examine ways to that you can take care of it and use it for the good of the community."
In addition, she believes that the project can fill a void in the housing marketplace.
"They're going to be nice places to live. I think that's the major gap that we have in the community is that we don't have places that are really attractive to the kind of people who are looking seriously for a place to live and make their home in Charles City."
While construction isn't expected to begin for at least two years, the Floyd County Courthouse is looking to add three temporary courtrooms and some offices in the building as they're getting prepared for their renovations and upgrades as part of the new Law Enforcement Center.
In addition, the district is working with community members to redevelop the back part of the 1970s wing of the building.
According to City Administrator Steve Diers, Charles City currently has a little under 900 rental units (which includes apartments and single-family homes).