With any remnants of a 1950s-era public housing complex now cleared away, the Rock Island Housing Authority celebrated the launch Monday of a new $14 million mixed-income housing development in west Rock Island.
A handful of agency representatives and community leaders gathered on the site of the former Manor Homes — at 26th Avenue between 7th and 9th streets — for a ceremonial ground-breaking of the new 55-unit complex. Known as Lynden Lane, the new project is the second large, new-construction project in recent years for the housing authority and its nonprofit affiliate, Community Housing Services.
"Manor Homes was built 55 years ago and we're replacing it with something that is new and fantastic," said Susan Anderson, the authority's executive director.
The development is the result of the housing authority's Asset Management Plan, which reviewed all the agency's public housing properties in 2003 and again in 2005. By the second review, she said it was decided that Manor Homes, a barracks-style complex, had become obsolete. Demolition began in early February.
But "it was a long, hard road" in getting financing and to the construction stage for its replacement, Anderson said. She said Lynden Lane is funded by a combination of state (Illinois Housing Authority) and federal tax credits, HOME funding, $1 million from the Rock Island Housing Authority and a conventional loan.
Lynden Lane will be a combination of single-family homes and duplexes, all of which will be rented. The project also will feature new city streets, street lighting as well as new infrastructure such as water, sewer, gas and electric lines. The majority will be build on 4.34 acres at 26th Avenue, but two four-bedroom single-family homes will be built on parcels about 1.5 miles northeast of the site.
"This will serve a variety of incomes,'' she said. Rents will range from $600 to $1,000. The housing mix will include two-, three-, and four-bedroom units with 43 of them reserved for family households earning at or below 30 percent, 50 percent and/or 60 percent of area median income. The remaining 12 units will be market rate with no income restrictions.
"It's not going to be row houses as the old public housing was," she said, adding that the homes have been designed to fit the style of the older, surrounding neighborhood. "It used to be lots of people crammed together here. These will have lots more space, and garages ... so it will be more of a home."
The development joins Cascade Garden, a $13 million, 70-unit development that the housing authority and Community Housing Services built in 2011 to serve families who have a member with a disability.
"This is going to really help this side of town," Galen Westerfield, vice chairman of Community Housing Services, said after the ceremony. "This butts right up to Cascade Gardens. So we have a three-block area that is all new and refreshed."
Jeff Eder, the City of Rock Island's community and economic development director, agreed, adding that the new housing options are bringing modern amenities to an area where development has been taking off recently.
"This continues all the development we've had lately on the west side of town,'' he said referring to the new Wal-Mart planned at Watchtower Plaza and the new commercial/office development at the end of 11th Street. Several displaced Watchtower tenants are being relocated to new buildings there.
The housing authority will begin accepting applications late summer for the new units. The first residents are expected to move in by year's end, Anderson said. "I don't expect any trouble filling it."
Manor Homes was the second complex demolished as part of the agency's asset management plan. In 2005, it demolished the Valley Homes complex, which remains undeveloped, she said. "There still are no plans for it."