Iowa City-based SouthGate Companies, a family business that grew into one of the largest Corridor-based real estate investment, development and rental companies over its 57-year history, has been acquired by Hillcrest Holdings.

Hillcrest Holdings described the acquisition as a long-term investment that aligns with its strategy of diversification into new areas of opportunity, along with continued investment in its core trucking industry holdings, which include Cedar Rapids-based CRST International.

"This is a long-term investment in a local company that shares our values of hard work, stewardship and making a difference in the community," Hillcrest Holdings Vice President Ian Smith said in a news release. "We look forward to deepening our roots in the Corridor, and supporting the talented SouthGate team as they continue to build vibrant communities to live and work in." 

No changes are planned to SouthGate's operations or its staff of 30, led by CEO Jerry Waddilove and CFO Caleb Wilson. Mr. Waddilove said the company plans to continue its ambitious growth strategy, which includes both development activities in the Corridor and expansion to other university cities and communities with medical institutions.

Founded by Polish immigrant David Braverman in 1962,  SouthGate manages more than 500 rental properties. It has d eveloped more than a dozen residential subdivisions; over 1,000 apartments, condominiums, townhomes, duplexes and single-family residences; and more than 600,000 square feet of commercial real estate. It offers build-to-suit properties, turnkey sales and multi-tenant facilities, and builds about 30 new homes per year through its Navigate Homes unit.  
Janie Braverman, Southgate's board chair, believes the sale will preserve an important legacy.
"Since 1962, the Braverman family has been committed to providing quality homes and workplaces for the Iowa City and Coralville community," she said in a news release. "We believe that Hillcrest's long-term investment perspective and family business values align well with this commitment and position Hillcrest to continue this legacy."
Owned by the Smith family, Hillcrest Holdings made its first major acquisition move outside of trucking and related fields in 2018 by taking a majority stake in the new cyber and physical security company Converged Security Solutions. The value of the SouthGate deal was not disclosed. 
The Rolling Acres Golf Course and the Sag Wagon North in Center Point were recently sold in two separate transactions.
Sag Wagon North was sold April 1 to Jeff Bulicek-led PB & J Inc. After renovations and a management change, the pub at 503 Iowa St. reopened April 24 as Bully's North.

The pub, which catered to cyclists on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, was sold by Steve Emerson-led CP Ventures for $100,000. It includes a 0.6 acre lot and 3,368-square-foot building with a small outdoor seating area.

Mr. Bulicek is a veteran Corridor pub owner who currently owns Bully's Angle Inn in Walford, and whose past ventures include Mr. B's in Cedar Rapids. He said Bully's North is a sports bar that will continue to cater to cyclists, but will also aim to attract locals and motorcyclists. It offers a full menu including lunch specials cooked from fresh ingredients daily, expanded seating, a dozen TV screens and a pool table. 

The nine-hole public Rolling Acres Golf Course was acquired for $400,500 by the Paul Pate III-led IA Investments LLC of Marion, from CP Ventures LC.
The golf course at 4761 Rolling Acres Road was built in 1966 and was transferred in two parcels totaling just over 50 acres. Mr. Pate, a Corridor real estate agent, said in an email that he has no plans for the property at this time.
The American Building in downtown Cedar Rapids. 
The newest office tower in downtown Cedar Rapids is also one of its oldest.
UFG Insurance will be moving this month into the American Building, a unique project on one of the city's most high-profile corners that answers the question of how to update and expand one of Cedar Rapids' most prominent historic structures without diminishing its strong classical design.
The complicated and costly solution: Build a contemporary 10-story tower six inches away that comes close to mirroring the scale and proportions of the original, but provides just the right amount of contrast to make the original building's design stand out.
It was not easy.
The 11-foot floor-to-ceiling measurements of the American Building didn't allow enough overhead space for things like HVAC ducts and cable trays required in modern buildings. To make more room, the floors in the new building are made from post-tensioned concrete that is less than half as thick than conventional floors in steel-frame office towers.
The small site also left little room for positioning cranes or staging materials. To make things faster, the project was the first high-rise in Cedar Rapids to use unitized curtain wall framing.
"As much as possible is built in a factory and lifted into sections onto the building," said project architect Al Buck, of Solum Lang Architects. "It increases the quality, and nobody wants to be hanging on the side of a building for hours."
One of the elements used to wed the contemporary and historic styles of the two buildings was the use of gray Indiana limestone sections that buffer the sleek glass of the new tower from its terra cotta-sided neighbor. More than 4,500 pieces of hand-set stone were used in a pattern that repeats every 15 feet, contrasting with the glass and helping link it with the original building.
Even though the 105-year-old American Building was in remarkable shape for its age, it still needed a renovation of its glazed terra cotta exterior.
Read the full members-only story in this week's print or digital editions of the CBJ. 
HCollins Aerospace, High Properties extend housing agreement
High Properties and Collins Aerospace have agreed to a five-year extension of an agreement under which High Properties provides corporate, co-op and intern housing for Collins employees.
The new agreement will extend the 14-year business relationship between the companies to 2024.
"It is an honor to continue to serve Collins Aerospace in Cedar Rapids," High Properties President Amy High said in a release.
Collins Aerospace, a division of United Technologies Corp., is the Corridor's largest private employer. High Properties is one of the largest property management firms in the Corridor, with more than 1,150 units in locations throughout Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls, Marion and Tiffin.

The Neighborhood Finance Corporation (NFC) has announced that it will provide down payment assistance loans up to $10,500 to borrowers in NFC lending areas in Des Moines, West Des Moines, Windsor Heights and Cedar Rapids.

"These funds will help us to remove barriers to home ownership for those who may not otherwise qualify for traditional mortgage loans," NFC Executive Director Stephanie Preusch said in a news release. "With these funds, qualified NFC borrowers will be able to purchase a home for as little as 3 percent of the purchase price."

Rising home prices have made down payments more of an obstacle to many buyers, Ms. Preusch told the CBJ, something the NFC's new assistance program is designed to address.

Terms of the down payment assistance announced this week are:
  • An eligible home buyer earning below 100 percent of the area median income may apply for a $10,500, 30-year deferred loan at a zero percent interest rate for a down payment on a home in an NFC lending area.
  • The deferred loan does not have to be repaid until the home is sold or, in some instances, when the homeowner seeks to refinance the home.
  • Home buyers are required to complete eight hours of home buyer education before receiving the loan.
  • NFC will provide the first mortgage fixed-rate loan and the $10,500 down payment loan.
  • NFC's Advantage Loan includes an additional forgivable loan up to $10,000 for renovation and up to $2,500 for closing costs for eligible home buyers.
This funding is similar to Project Reinvest, which was first introduced in November 2017 after NFC received a $3.96 million grant award to support and encourage home ownership in Polk County. The funding helped 330 home buyers in Polk County secure a loan to purchase a home. 
NFC is now committing funding through a recent NeighborWorks America award to make the same program available to those seeking home loans through NFC on an ongoing basis. The funding is part of a $324,500 flexible grant NFC received from the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, doing business as NeighborWorks America.

Des Moines-based Neighborhood Finance Corp. announced it was expanding to Cedar Rapids in 2018, and issued its first Cedar Rapids loan early year. For more information on the NFC Down Payment program, visit or call (319) 777-7127.
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Short-Term Event Planner .
May 2
Wake Up Marion, by Marion Chamber of Commerce, 8-9 a.m., Hills Bank & Trust, 3204 Seventh Ave., Marion. Enjoy complimentary coffee and get to know the host business. Free. For more information, visit 
QuickBooks Onlineby SCORE of East Central Iowa, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Hy-Vee, 5050 Edgewood Road NE, Cedar Rapids. Learn tips and tricks to get more value out of the different modules of QuickBooks. Free. To register, visit
Dive into Development in the Cedar Rapids Metro, by Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, noon-1 p.m., Economic Alliance, 501 First St. SE. This program will provide an overview of regional business attraction project leads, provide insight into economic development tax credit programs from the Iowa Economic Development Authority and more. Free. For more information, visit
Re-Connect: Careers & Conversation, by IowaWORKS, 1-3 p.m., North Liberty Public Library, 520 W. Cherry St. Re-Connect is a monthly employer panel that hosts companies from the six major industry sectors in the region. Each employer will share information about their company and answer questions from job candidates about available opportunities. Free. For more information, visit
May 3
Building a Consumer Brand from Local to Global, by Entrepreneurial Development Center, noon, North Liberty CoLab, 215 Highway 965, Suite 1. Freda Sojka, founder of Simply Soothing, will share her experience scaling her Bug Soother bug repellent beyond Columbus Junction through e-commerce and brick and mortar retailers. Free. To register, visit
First Friday Coffee Connections, by Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, 7:30-8:30 a.m., Z's Catering and BBQ, 760 Nathan Ave., Unit 9, North Liberty. Enjoy this energetic networking event before heading off for the daily grind. Free. For more information, visit
Headlines from CBS2/FOX 28 
These news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28  
At  nearly 3 a.m. on one of the last nights of the legislative session, Iowa lawmakers passed a bill that  requires tax-paying Iowans get the chance to weigh in on property tax increases. Senate File 634 passed after significant changes, including the removal of a hard cap on how much those tax revenues could increase. That means relief for many communities who  spoke out against the proposal, but others are still holding onto doubts. "Most years it won't affect our finances significantly," says Simon Andrew, who is the assistant to Iowa City's city manager. Mr. Andrew says Iowa City will be fine for now because they've kept property tax revenue growth down. However, he says this new bill doesn't leave much wiggle room for when budgets hit speed bumps. "For instance, one of our significant property tax increases was after the floods of 2008," Mr. Andrew said. Just down the road in Coralville, City Administrator Kelly Hayworth says this version is workable. "We felt like local councils and mayors are really the best people to make decisions for their communities," Mr. Hayworth said. City councils or county boards would vote to approve increases over 2 percent; the vote would only pass with a two-thirds majority. To read the full story, click here.
Cedar Rapids police are expected to present their plan for the city's automated speed cameras soon. A spokesperson for the city says they anticipate the department to make a presentation to the city council within the next 30 days. The cameras are still on and collecting data, but they have not been issuing tickets to drivers since April 2017. As CBS2/FOX 28 first reported last fall,  the police department wants to use revenue from I-380 speed camera tickets to help hire 10 new officers. They have also said if the city approves the plan to restart the program, there will be a grace period before speeding drivers get a real fine.

T hese news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28 
CBS2 Chief Meteorologist Terry Swails' Weather First Forecast
Today will be mostly cloudy and cool with temperatures in the 50s and 60s. It will be cloudy tonight ahead of another system that will move in. Scattered showers will be possible late tonight into tomorrow morning. The highest chances for rain will be near and south of Highway 20. Rain will wind down midday Thursday and clouds will gradually clear. Temperatures will be in the upper 50s to mid 60s. High pressure moves in and brings a much needed break from the rain to start the weekend. It will be mostly sunny Friday with temperatures in the 60s. Sunshine will continue Saturday and temperatures will climb to near 70. Another cold front will move in Sunday and bring a few scattered showers and storms. Temperatures will still be warm in the mid 60s.