Penford rezones Riverside Park for industrial use

Step paves way for future Penford expansion into neighboring park

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Rick Smith

Penford Products Co. is moving ahead as planned to rezone the city’s Riverside Park next door for industrial use.

Rezoning and amending the city’s future land use map, which the City Planning Commission will take up on Thursday, is a next step in the company’s plan to expand into the park in the future.

In this instance, the changes are routine and procedural because the City Council, after months of review, agreed in November to sell the park to Penford for industrial expansion.

The city is retaining the deed to the property and will use the site as a park until Penford has a specific expansion plan to present to the city. The council first must sign off on the site development plan before it hands over the deed to the park.

Brad Larson, a planner in the city’s Community Development Department, on Friday noted that having the appropriate zoning classification for the park property is an "important step" in Penford’s ability to expand or to recruit an industrial partner to join in an expansion plan.

Penford’s Froehlich said taking care of the rezoning and land use map amendment now will mean that the company won’t need to go through the 90-to120-day regulatory process once it comes up with an expansion plan. The company continues to look for an expansion opportunity, he said.

Penford, which employs 250 people and processes corn into starch products and ethanol at its riverfront plant in Cedar Rapids, first announced its request to buy Riverside Park a year ago.

In November, the council and the company signed a development agreement that calls for the city to sell the park to the company for $1.67 million. In turn, Penford agreed to invest at least $10 million in any expansion. The agreement also calls for the company to provide buffering between any expansion and the properties around it.

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