Sherman Hill complex prepares for residents

Des Moines Register • 2008

The future residents of Stockbridge Apartments will be getting a bargain in more than one way.

The $6.2 million development at 1815 High St. is the first apartment building in Iowa to feature a geothermal heating and cooling system. The environmentally friendly system is expected to dramatically shrink utility bills at the 42-unit complex, which will be for low- and moderate-income individuals and families.

A typical electric bill for a one-bedroom apartment in the Stockbridge would run about $15 and about $45 for a two-bedroom apartment, said developer Jack Hatch, who built the apartments.

“We’re trying to serve people who are looking to save money, and geothermal heating and cooling is going to do that in a big way,” Hatch said.

Geothermal-heating systems transfer heat from the earth to the home through a water-based solution that circulates through a loop.

The solution absorbs heat from the ground and carries it to the geothermal unit that compresses the heat at a high temperature and delivers it to the home.

When cooling, the process is reversed and heat is transferred to the earth.

The energy use is very efficient. Power is needed only for the pump, compressor and fan. On the coldest days, a backup system, usually natural gas or propane, must take over because the water will be too cold to adequately heat a home.

Geothermal heating’s biggest drawback is increased installation costs during construction. The system added about $250,000 to the cost of the Stockbridge development, which was paid for by grants from the city of Des Moines and the federal government, Hatch said.

Stockbridge is a welcome addition to the Sherman Hill neighborhood, which prides itself on diversity in both architecture and population, said Donna Hallstrom, president of the Sherman Hill Association.

“We’re very excited about the project,” she said, “just everything about it. It brings environmentally sound construction to the neighborhood as well as the opportunity for a variety of people to live in the neighborhood. It should attract a lot of people.”

The building already has 10 applications on file, Hatch said. He expects the project to fill quickly.

“It’s a very arduous application project because there are lots of checks and hoops to clear for a tax-subsidized low- and moderate-income building,” he said. “I’ve built these projects before, and we know there is demand. It will be a full house.”

Neighborhood Investment Corporation board member Bob Mickle, left, developer Jack Hatch of Hatch Development and NIC board member and secretary/treasurer Dave Mowitz, right, introduce the Stockbridge Apartments during its grand opening Wednesday at 1815 High Street, in the Sherman Hill neighborhood in Des Moines. The Stockbridge Apartments is the third “affordable housing” downtown housing project in the city developed by NIC and Hatch Development partnered with the Midwest Housing Equity Group.