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Tenants have waited over 17 months for redevelopment of trailer park

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Wendy web
Wendy Rosario takes her puppy for a walk with her daughter Friday at the Forest View Mobile Home Park.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) - Wendy Rosario gets stressed every time she thinks of the project that should be saving her neighborhood.

"Every single year they've been saying, 'It's going to be this summer...it's going to be this summer,'" Rosario said.

Rosario lives at the Forest View Mobile Home Park just south of Interstate 80 and West of North Dubuque Street in Iowa City. She says she first heard about the proposed redevelopment around the time she moved in.

She says most of the units are still in a livable condition but she runs in to issues with bugs and her heater breaking yearly.

In June of 2019, the City Council approved a conditional rezoning for 73 acres in and around Forest View. Blackbird Investments out of Des Moines was chosen for the project.

Blackbird told the city it planned on a mixed residential and commercial development and would find a new home for everyone currently at Forest View.

The project was contingent on Blackbird finalizing an affordable housing agreement with the city --giving the company a tax credit and allowing it to offer cheaper rent-- and finalizing building plans.

Fast forward to November of this year and construction is yet to start.

"My mom and I, we're just going to start saving money and move out," Rosario said, doubtful about the project starting soon.

Blackbird says the current plans include office space, a hotel, retail space and new homes. CEO Justin Doyle says the complexity of the project is slowing it down.

"The development agreement, housing agreement, engineering; it's all intertwined. It's unfortunately not a linear process but all parties involved are very reasonable and excited," Doyle said over a text message Friday afternoon.

Doyle says another issue has been finding groups willing to build something like a hotel during a pandemic.

"Nothing is moving as fast as we want but we are pushing the fastest we can given the complexity of the project and the market volatility," Doyle said.

Doyle says Blackbird has been improving lighting and water lines on the old property in the interim while construction cannot start. He maintains that Blackbird is committed to the project and will see it through.

Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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