Hubbell Realty Co. plans to begin construction this fall on a $24 million townhome and apartment complex in Pleasant Hill. The complex, called Forge65, will include two 48-unit apartment buildings and 38 townhomes. Architectural rendering by Simonson & Associates Architects LLC

A $24 million apartment and townhome project planned for Pleasant Hill, the first multifamily units built in the eastern Polk County community in five years, is a much-needed step toward proving more diverse housing options to area residents, officials say.

Hubbell Realty Co. is proposing to construct two 48-unit apartment buildings and 38 townhomes on about 8 acres near Northeast 60th Street and Morning Star Court. The development, called Forge65, will provide one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and townhouses with ranch and two-story floor plans.

A housing study completed in 2018 showed that Pleasant Hill had done little to promote multifamily developments in the community. As other suburbs provided more housing options, such as apartments and renter- and owner-occupied townhomes and condominiums, Pleasant Hill’s housing options “narrowed,” the study said.

In addition, a 3.3% apartment vacancy rate -- the second-lowest in the metro area -- has created a barrier drawing new residents to the community, the study said. 

“Access to housing for all portions of the market is critical to economic development within the community,” Madeline Sturms, Pleasant Hill’s community development director, told the Business Record. “Additional market-rate multifamily units are needed to provide housing for young professionals, retirees and others.”

Two apartment projects have been completed in the city since 2014, according to Sturms. In 2014, 16 market-rate units were added in a complex along North Pleasant Hill Boulevard; in 2015, a 62-unit senior tax credit building was constructed on Northeast 56th Street, south of University Avenue.

“Pleasant Hill just doesn’t have a lot of rental options, and with the second-lowest [apartment] vacancy in the metro area, this project made a lot of sense,” said Kris Saddoris, Hubbell Realty’s vice president of multifamily development. “I think we’ll see young professionals and empty-nesters interested in living there.”

The Pleasant Hill City Council has approved an agreement with Hubbell that provides the development with 100% tax abatement for 10 years, an incentive valued at about $3.2 million. City officials estimate that after the abatement period, the development will generate about $400,000 per year in property taxes. 

The agreement also calls for the city to complete improvements to Martha L. Miller Drive and Northeast 60th Street at no cost to Hubbell. The capital improvements project, estimated to cost about $3 million, will also include the extension of trails and improvements to the intersection at Iowa Highway 163/University Avenue and Northeast 60th Street.

Construction of the apartment buildings and townhomes is expected to begin later this year with completion scheduled in early 2022, Saddoris said.

Apartments at Forge65 will include the option of a detached garage, and townhouses will include two-vehicle garages. The development will also include a clubhouse with pool.