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Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center

Photo of the exterior of the Senior Center

Photo of the interior of the Senior Center during renovation

Photo of the interior of the Senior Center after renovation

Photo of a instrumental music group practicing at the Senior Center

Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center is one of many Success Stories that have been locally nominated for recognition in celebration of CDBG's 30th Anniversary.

Success Story Details

Grantee: City of Iowa City, Iowa
Field Office: Omaha (Region 7)
Carried Out By: City of Iowa City, et al
Eligibility: 24 CFR 570.201(c)
Natl. Objective: LMC
CDBG $1,600,000
Other $   335,846              
Total $1,935,846
Date Started: September 1977
Date Completed: September 1981
IDIS Activity No: N/A (pre-IDIS)
Grantee Contact: Steven Nasby (steve-nasby@iowa-city.org) or Linda Kopping (linda-kopping@iowa-city.org)
Grantee Website: Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center (http://www.icgov.org/senior/)

Success Story Description

The City of Iowa City partnered with Johnson County and senior groups to acquire and rehabilitate the "old" post office building in downtown Iowa City. The purpose of this project was to renovate this 25,000 square foot, vacated building into a comprehensive, multi-use, City/County Senior Center.

The original building was built in 1904 and an addition was built in 1931. The building was designed in the Beaux Arts style and constructed out of Indiana limestone. The U.S. Postal Service relocated in 1975, making the building available for renovation. The structure was selected as the City/County Senior Center site because if its proximity to downtown services and elderly housing complexes, its potential to allow for locating a range of elderly services and activity centers in one place, and the opportunity to make practical use of the space.

One of the challenges was to design a functional and accessible variety of interior spaces while honoring the requirement to conserve the historical site features of the main lobby, the exterior stone, millwork and large window sashes. The original mail workroom is now a large meeting area that hosts a variety of informative and entertaining programs as well as the daily congregate meals program. A mezzanine floor was introduced to make more efficient use of the vertical space above the dining area. This space is used as a library, game and office area with visual access to the main lobby below. The basement was excavated to provide sufficient height for a lower level and accommodates several offices, a meeting room, a fitness facility and craft rooms. The upper floor is used for classroom and office space, a computer lab and a television studio run by senior volunteers.

Human service agencies specializing in senior services have collected data which document how the Senior Center has provided a greater opportunity for cooperative arrangements and partnerships through the centralization of services and activities. The Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center recorded 88,818 visits to the facility in 2003. According to a 2000 survey, approximately 66.2% of those served at the Senior Center were low-income.

In addition to the low-moderate income clients served, the Senior Center project has also accomplished these additional CDBG objectives: (1) making a public building fully accessible; (2) preservation of a historically significant structure; (3) employment of construction workers at Davis-Bacon wage rates, and (4) providing a linkage to Iowa City's Housing Rehabilitation Program through the Elder Services, Inc. offices within the Senior Center.

The Senior Center has also indirectly acted as a catalyst for other activities that further the mission of the CDBG program. One of these benefits is the development of subsidized housing for persons who are elderly or disabled in downtown Iowa City. These housing projects include Ecumenical Towers, Capitol House and the Citizen Building.

Iowa City's CDBG investment in the Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center was completed over 20 years ago. After all these years, CDBG still delivers!

Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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