Our sister company, Preservation Corps United, has written a compelling case for why we should save Highland Apartments. I want to be clear about this. Keeping this vital building and renovating is financially viable. I’ve seen the bid InvestDSM is using in their viability equation. It was $342.49 per square foot, and the construction company was hired by a developer who also wants to make a profit.

We propose that Hat Trick Renovation and Preservation Corps United be the developer AND general contractor. We have acted as general contractor on multiple profitable residential development projects, including one in the Drake Neighborhood that was also thought to be impossible. It was cut up into eight apartments, had burn damage, and involved us removing 17-40 yard dumpsters before we could even begin the process. We took it on when no one else would because my company was about serving my community and doing work that would allow me to be present in my kids’ lives.

May 17, 2023 will be my six year anniversary of starting my company. A business that’s survived six years despite the challenges of the COVID and post-COVID eras, and my raising three kids while beating a host of personal medical challenges.

Honestly, saving this building sounds like a nice relaxing walk in the park. We have all survived so much. This building has survived so much. We deserve to help each other climb out of our collective traumas and THRIVE. This building can give shelter to the growing preservation community in Des Moines, while Des Moines learns how to care for historic buildings in the process. It is the feel good story Iowans need right now.

If that’s too mushy for you, here are the cold hard facts: Hat Trick Renovation can restore this building for around $250 per square foot. We will do it with Historic Tax Credits (SHTC and FHTC), Women in Business grant (something the other developers didn’t have access to!) Affordable Housing Tax Credits, and if necessary, with some really cool fundraising events to get us across the finish line. An Iowa study of the SHTC program shows that in three years, there is a 5x return on investment, which increases to 13x at 10 years.

That’s just my bid. There would likely be more, one or more of which you might even like better than mine. BUT THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO FIND OUT: give the process another 90 days to let the many people who want to renovation have a shot at making their full financial case.

So tell me Des Moines, how do you want InvestDSM to spend YOUR tax dollars? Do you want them to throw almost a MILLION Des Moines and Polk County Tax dollars into the landfill and start over on a new building that will almost definitely not last 50 years? Or do you want them to accept our offer to do this project for roughly $2.5 million dollars and have a restored historic building that will last another 100+ years?

One more thing…do you like jobs? We expect 70% of that $2.5 million to be spent in labor. New construction typically uses 40% of budget for labor. 60% goes to materials that may or may not be purchased in Iowa and will create a huge carbon footprint on that corner. We can and should do better.

Make your voice heard at or before the City Council Meeting this Monday, May 8th.

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