Cedar Rapids Medical District working on master plan

Plan to address parking, other considerations should be ready within six months of hiring firm

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The city’s new medical district will soon have a master plan for parking and other considerations in its 50-square-block area.

John Albert Jr., vice chairman of the district’s commission, said that plan should be ready within six months of hiring a firm to oversee the planning process.

Albert, owner of Citywide Cleaners, cited his position on the commission as evidence that the medical district is addressing needs of non-medical business owners in the district, known as MedQuarter.

“I think it’s going to help our community,” Albert said after a meeting Tuesday night at Mercy Medical Center’s Hall-Perrine Cancer Center.

About 30 people heard an update on the district’s plans; the first public forum since the City Council approved the Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District in September 2011.

Retired pediatrician Dr. Julianne Thomas, who also serves on the commission, said a new Web site that will provide updated district information will be functioning within 90 days of hiring a web development firm.

The district was formed to promote quality health care with better outcomes at a lower cost in a single location. Businesses and apartments in the district are taxed an extra $3.75 per $1,000 of assessed value to pay for operations, security and other expenses.

Proponents say the district will help Cedar Rapids compete with University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and other medical establishments.

Ted Townsend, CEO of St. Luke’s Hospital, referred to “controversies” regarding building demolitions within the district and noted that historic preservation could be another area addressed in the master plan.

At least 10 buildings, including some eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, were demolished to make way for the forthcoming Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa medical pavilion and parking. The PCI building, under construction at 10th Street and Second Avenue SE, is expected to open next year.

Bill Olinger, who owns several properties in the medical district, including the historic Averill Mansion, 1120 Second Ave. SE, said he is planning a restaurant next to the mansion and appreciates the commission’s efforts.

“They’re doing more than I expected,” he said.

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