Hotel Randolph Renovation Will Push Residents Out - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Hotel Randolph Renovation Will Push Residents Out

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By Ron Marasco

rmarasco@myabc5.com

There are big plans in the works for the Court Avenue district in downtown Des Moines. A rundown old hotel building, the Randolph, will be getting an upgrade.

The Des Moines City Council Monday night voted on a plan for 55 apartment units and first floor commercial space in the building at Court Ave. and 4th St, at a cost of $15 million.

But in order to renovate, the city first needs to kick out the people who live here. More than 100 people actually call the Hotel Randolph home, many of them low income or transient.

And now they don't know where they'll go.

"If they take this from me, what do I got?" asked resident Keith Cook, who has lived at the Randolph for two years.

"I don't have any place else to go, so yea, I'm kinda scared, kinda nervous," said four-month resident John Rutkowski.
 
The city of Des Moines says they plan to help.

"Let's hope that we can find a spot, and that's our goal to find a place for every single one of those residents," said Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie.

Mayor Cownie says 5,300 families are waiting for low-income services, including housing.  But he plans on making the people staying at the Hotel Randolph a priority.

"So what we're thinking is they ought to be at the front of the line, because we don't just want to put them out on the street," said Cownie.

The mayor says the Randolph owners share that view.  But John Rutkowski says he wishes those making the decisions would be more up front with information.

"There's 118 of us that are going to be out in the streets real soon," said Rutkowski.  "And nobody has told us what day, when.  We can't even start looking for a place because we don't know when it's going to happen."

Mayor Cownie says the renovation should start in about six months, and when it does some residents may have the opportunity to move back.
 
The city says a relocation specialist will help residents, along with social services.  They also say the developer will provide financial assistance to every one who lives at the hotel.

Each resident will get a hand-delivered 60-day notice before any action is taken.

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