Cedar Rapids neighborhood celebrates rebuilding - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Rapids neighborhood celebrates rebuilding

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - After nearly 4,000 volunteer labor hours, Block by Block, the grassroots organization that intends to rehabilitate and reunite neighborhoods, is celebrating its first benchmark of success: the completion of its first block.

Organizers, supporters and neighbors gathered in the middle of the 1300 block of 8th St., NW, to cut the ceremonial ribbon Tuesday morning. The block, which has had 15 properties rehabilitated and four slated for buy-out, kicked-off the program in late July. Block by Block will have resolutions for seven more participating blocks by the end of the year.

In his comments, Project Administrator Clint Twedt-Ball announced that the program recently received $1.1 million from the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA).

Bishop Julius Calvin Trimble of the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church addressed the crowd to discuss the importance of his church's involvement.

Also, Marilyn Loan, on behalf of St. Stephen's Lutheran Church, presented a $5,000 check to the Block by Block leadership. The contribution represents proceeds from the church's 2009 Work of our Hands Auction.

Organizers report there are currently five blocks with active construction occurring as part of the Block by Block program:

500 4th SW
1300 9th NW
1300 J St SW
1200 8th St. NW
1200 9th St. NW

Two additional blocks are undergoing assessment and customized solutions are being identified:

300 Block of 6th Ave SW
600 Block of 4th St SW

Initial project funding came from John and Dyan Smith's gift of $1 million, a $700,000 grant from the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation and $200,000 from the United Methodist Church, which also provided skilled volunteer labor.

Four Oaks and its affiliate, the Affordable Housing Network, provide financial oversight for the program and will accept donations to the program.

In addition, organizers report that some blocks have absent homeowners who have not been located. Homeowners with property in the eight identified blocks who have not met with neighborhood leaders are asked to contact the Block by Block office at 350-2252.

For more information about Block by Block, call 319-350-2252 or visit the website at www.blockbyblockcr.org

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