Historic IA Barracks Redeveloped Into Affordable Housing


Blackbird Investments' 146-unit asset in Des Moines spans across 13 acres of a 640-acre decommissioned army facility.

After approximately 10 months, Blackbird Investments completed the transformation of six Des Moines, Iowa, barracks into an affordable property. WNC provided $17.1 million in low-income housing tax credit equity to fund the construction and renovation of Fort Des Moines Living. Hugh O’Hagan and Russ Frazier served as developers of the 146-unit project.

Located at 6908 Chaffee Road, the property spans across 13 acres of the original 640-acre decommissioned army facility in the state’s capital. Fort Des Moines Living is close to Morris Elementary School, McCombs Middle School and Lincoln RAILS Academy. Blank Park Zoo and South Suburban YMCA are within walking distance of the property. The asset includes two- and three-story buildings with 80 one- and 62 two-bedroom garden units.

A national historic site

Fort Des Moines has significant history dating back to World War I and II. Built between 1903 and 1910, the former barracks were home to the Provisional Army Officer Training School, where African Americans prepared to become officers for the U.S. Army during World War I. The same building served as training center in 1942 for 72,000 women getting ready to become part of the Women’s Army Corps. Following the war, the facilities were repurposed to serve the needs of the veterans returning from war.

“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 twentieth century, while featuring quality modern interior living areas. Fort Des Moines Living’s affordable units are available to families earning 60 percent of the area’s median income level,” said WNC Executive Vice President & COO Michael Gaber, in a prepared statement.

At the end of last year, WNC also provided $8.6 million in LIHTC equity for the construction of St. Ignatius, a 66-unit senior housing community in Sanford, Maine.

Image courtesy of Blackbird Investments

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