District to sell former headquarters to developer for apartments

Public hearing on proposal scheduled for Monday evening

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CEDAR RAPIDS — The 98-year old former Educational Service Center for the Cedar Rapids school district could get a new life as an apartment building.

The district accepted a $237,100 proposal to sell the property to real estate developer Steve Emerson during its June 11 meeting, pending a public hearing at 5 p.m. today at the district’s new headquarters, 2500 Edgewood Rd. NW.

Emerson said he plans to develop the second and third stories of the building at 346 Second Ave. SW into apartments, with the first floor as parking. He hopes to get the former school added to the National Register of Historic Places as well as have the renovated structure be environmentally friendly.

The building started life as Grant High School in 1915, and served as the district’s headquarters until it was damaged in the Floods of 2008.

Since the flood, the building has been cleaned and maintained, but no other renovation work has taken place. The actual purchase price for the building is $600,000, but the district is crediting Emerson the cost of asbestos removal.

The property being sold also includes a vacant lot on the corner of Second Avenue and Fifth Street SW. Emerson said he is considering building new town houses on that plot but has not yet made any decisions.

Emerson, who is the largest single owner of office space across the river in downtown Cedar Rapids, hopes the redeveloped apartments will help spur new development of the west side of the Cedar River.

The district also will hold a public hearing during today’s meeting concerning the $170,000 sale of a parking lot at 210 Fifth Street SW to Maranatha Bible Church.

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