Cyrilla Court is a small affordable housing subdivision on Irving Street east of North 1st in Lincoln. Prior to its development, the land was not only idle and not producing tax revenue, but required city maintenance of the Lynn Creek tributary which crossed the tract. It was owned by the City Parks Department, but due to erosion problems, it was not used as a park. NHR developed the site by creating a new channel for the tributary and protecting it with bioengineering techniques coordinated through the Lower Platte South Natural Resource District..
Old Riley School
In 2000, NHR, in partnership with the city, redeveloped the former site of Riley School (50th and Dudley Streets) and created five affordable homes. Under then Mayor Don Wesely’s leadership and guidance from Urban Development, NHR developed the Old Riley School homes as part of its campaign to address the lack of new affordable homes in Lincoln. NHR entered into an agreement with the city to raze the abandoned and dilapidated school, originally built in 1917 (replaced in 1963), and finding the right builders for the new homes that could now be built.
Lincoln’s J. Greg Schwinn Homes, Inc., was selected by NHR as the builder for four of the five homes. The Schwinn homes feature 1290SF with three bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms. The two-story layout was a variation of the four-square design popular in the early 20th century. The fifth lot was used by the Lincoln Housing Authority’s joint venture with Northeast High School’s student-build program, an ideal training ground for students learning construction trades. Each home has an attached or detached garage and full basements and sold for approximately $115,000. The development partners in addition to the city were Neighborhoods, Inc., who through the city’s Urban Development provided secured second mortgage financing for income and credit qualified buyers who completed their home buyer education program. NIFA made available a Fannie Mae pilot first mortgage, a low down payment, 30-year fixed rate mortgage, to qualified buyers. Fannie Mae through NIFA’s lender partners, purchased around $365,000 in first mortgages for the Old Riley School homes.
In 2001, NHR partnered with the city to complete the development of 16 tax-repossessed lots in Olympic Heights First Addition (NW 53rd and W Leighton Streets). The Olympic Heights homes were built by Aspen Builders, Cherry Hill, Habitat for Humanity, Hoppe Homes, J. Greg Schwinn Homes, and Regal Building Systems. Previous concerns related to the site were the land was not producing tax revenue and required city maintenance. Additionally, the residents in existing homes west of NW 53rd had no direct access to the small city park located across a natural drainage way separating the neighborhood.
Olympic Heights Development
The land was purchase by NHR from the city and NHR built a bike path on a permanent easement through the development to access the park. The Olympic Heights homes were made possible through the cooperation and partnership of Lincoln Parks/Recreation and Urban Development Departments, NIFA, Neighborhoods Inc., and Fannie Mae. All homebuyers were provided education and were qualified by Neighborhoods, Inc. (now NeighborWorks Lincoln). Lincoln’s Urban Development through its HOME Program, offered up to $12,500 for down payment assistance at zero interest rate and forgivable in years six through ten. NHR provided $7,500 second mortgage loans to 14 of the first-time homebuyers with payments deferred for the first five years and then repayments occurring years six through ten. The first mortgage loans were originated by private lenders primarily using NIFA’s first time homebuyer program with special below market interest rates.
Old Mill Village
Old Mill Village, now a neighborhood with 137 families, was a vacant tract of land previously owned by the Nebraska Department of Roads. It was purchased and developed by NHR in partnership with the city and built out in multiple phases. Prior to putting in the infrastructure, NHR under its purchase agreement allowed fill dirt to be removed and used in the construction of the Homestead Expressway and Rosa Parks Way elevated intersection. While the city had initially funded the land purchase with a deferred loan to NHR the loan was paid back by NHR after the first 30 lots were sold.
Phase One comprised of an initial 15 lots on the east side of SW 12th and south of South Street was completed in 2003. One of the homes built was by Lincoln/Lancaster County Habitat for Humanity. Phase Two began in 2004, adding 51 more lots with builders using a mix of affordable and market rate lots to build for their homebuyers. Phase Three with 81 lots completed the subdivision with the last two homes being completed in 2016.
To build a strong community connection, the new streets in Old Mill Village were all named after local law enforcement officers slain in the line of duty. At a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Phase Two, family members of these fallen officers that still resided in the community were honored with a plaque with the street name.
Over 15 different builders as well as Habitat for Humanity built homes in Old Mill Village.
The public financial investments made for Old Mill Village came from the Nebraska Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Lincoln’s Community Development Block Grant program and HOME funds.