Real Estate

Historic Iowa military barracks transformed into affordable housing community

LIHTC used to convert Fort Des Moines to housing

A lot of people may not know about Fort Des Moines, but the Iowa military base has significant historical value.

The Iowa installation was the site where black Americans were first trained to be officers in the U.S. military during World War I, and now, part of the historic area has been preserved, restored and converted into a 142-unit affordable housing community, thanks to a novel approach from a leading affordable housing developer.

WNC, a California real estate investor and developer, announced this week that Fort Des Moines Living is now open.

The creation of the new affordable housing community was funded using $17.1 million in low-income housing tax credit equity, which was provided by WNC.

The development converted six barracks on the Fort Des Moines site into two- and three-story buildings with 80 one-bedroom garden units and 62 two-bedroom garden units.

Fort Des Moines was built during the 1800s and was home to the Provisional Army Officer Training School, which is now a national landmark.

It was at the Provisional Army Officer Training School where black Americans were trained to be officers for the U.S. Army during the first World War. Additionally, it was the site where women first began training for U.S. Army service in 1942 as part of the Women’s Army Corps.

The barracks buildings that became the new affordable housing community were built between 1903 and 1910.

According to WNC, Blackbird Investments, a Des Moines-based investment firm, received the LIHTC equity to fund the project.

“Fort Des Moines Living provides residents with completely renovated affordable housing within a quiet community that includes peaceful walking paths and play areas,” said WNC Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Gaber. “The rich history of the community is embraced in its design, which maintains the structure of historic buildings that date back to the turn of the 20th century, while featuring quality modern interior living areas.”

According to Gaber, the units in the new community are available to families earning 60% of the area’s median income level.

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