Melbourne Apartments’ First Phase Marks Triumphs Over Challenging Site to Address Affordable Housing Needs

DES MOINES – The newest development on the city’s south side represents a triumph over a long-neglected site’s challenging topography and an overall down economy to provide 84 restricted-income apartments, according to the firm responsible for its construction.

Local and state officials, the South Des Moines Chamber of Commerce, Hubbell Realty Co., executives and residents participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony today to mark the official opening of the Melbourne Apartments, 5515 SE 14th St.

“Typically, we prefer to develop a community rather than just a one-off project, and that’s what we’re doing with Melbourne Apartments,” said Rick Tollakson, Hubbell Realty Co. president and CEO. “This was a large enough site so that we have an opportunity to create a community and do it in multiple phases.”

Tollakson said the site, which Hubbell Realty acquired in August 2008, posed grading and stormwater management challenges that contributed to the property remaining undeveloped for years. He also noted that neighbors were concerned about potential problems with the development, including water run-off and traffic but cited the efforts of Des Moines Council members Christine Hensley and Chris Coleman to alleviate the worries.

“The real success here is that the efforts of Chris Coleman and the city staff to facilitate numerous neighborhood meetings led to workable solutions. Even then, Melbourne Apartments needed a super-majority vote by the city council and Christine Hensley really led the way,” said Tollakson, who noted construction began in September 2009.

Krista Capp, vice president of property management, said Melbourne Apartments leasing has been ahead of schedule. She indicated the next phase of construction could be slated for 2011 as development eventually expands to 216 apartments.

“The federal housing tax credit program, which the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) administers, was instrumental in moving Melbourne Apartments from the conceptual stage to reality,” Capp said.

“The Iowa Finance Authority is committed to ensuring that all Iowans have access to safe, decent affordable housing,” said IFA Executive Director Joe O’Hern. “We know that our state and its communities are strengthened when individuals and families have the safety and stability that affordable housing provides. The Melbourne Apartments not only benefit the people who will live in them, but they make the state of Iowa a better place.”

Polk County Supervisor John F. Mauro, who represents south Des Moines as part of the Fourth District, was unable to attend the event but noted the development will be an asset to the neighborhood.

“The addition of 84 family housing units to our community provides much needed safe and affordable housing for our Polk County residents who are proud to call South Des Moines home,” Mauro said. “The Polk County Board of Supervisors is pleased to welcome Melbourne Apartments to the south side.”

Hensley said, “Projects such as the Melbourne Apartments are critical for the City of Des Moines to address our affordable housing needs within the community and Hubbell provides additional services to ensure success.”

Coleman noted, “We’ve been able to take a challenging site on one of the city’s busiest streets and turn it into a productive development and a great place for many people to live. Melbourne Apartments has been a real win-win situation for everyone.”

Hubbell Realty Co. has been a staple in the Des Moines real estate market for over 150 years. Its superior craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail has established its reputation for excellence and value. Buildings that Hubbell Realty has constructed for over a century remain prominent throughout the Des Moines metro today.

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