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URBANDALE, Iowa — As the need for affordable housing increases in the state,  Urbandale is partnering with developers on creating the first affordable housing unit the city has seen in 20 years. 

Polk County is partnering with the local organization, Dream Catcher, and TWG Development, a developer who specializes in affordable housing. 

The Vice President of TWG, John Sullivan, said even though the Lillis Lofts will be low-income based, it will be built as high-quality housing.

“We have your nice brick, we’ll have plenty of community amenities, in-unit washer and dryer. These are very energy efficient,” Sullivan said. “So they’re very high-quality units and just because of the affordable housing program, we’re able to offer reduced rent because of the tax credits.” 

Lillis Lofts will be a 43 unit, two to three bedroom apartment complex.

This three story housing unit will offer monthly rates determined by a renter’s income. 

The apartment building will remain an affordable housing option for at least the next 15 years. 

Lillis Lofts is located behind Merle Hay Mall. Sullivan said many companies are finding success in building affordable housing by large shopping centers in already developed neighborhoods.

“The malls are all kind of repositioning themselves with malls all across America not necessarily being the same as what they were. So now, a lot of times they have some extra land or land they’re trying to repurpose,” Sullivan said. 

Polk County Housing Trust Fund also contributed funds to this $10 million project. 

According to the Polk County Housing Trust Fund, Polk County is about 12,000 affordable housing units short for residents who earn less than 60% of the area’s median income. 

Lillis Lofts tenants who qualify will earn between 30% and 60% of the area median income, which is $25,000 to $55,000 a year. 

Mayor of Urbandale, Bob Andeweg, said Lillis Lofts will be the start of the transition needed in Polk County.

“We are also working on rehabilitating single-family housing stock in this area as well we’re putting some money in to do some rehabilitation,” Andeweg said. “So we’re looking both from a multifamily and single-family standpoint so that we provide safe, affordable housing for everybody.” 

Lillis Lofts is slated to be finished by the fall.