Photo gallery: Westdale Mall project starts with interior demolition

Southwest Cedar Rapids project should be ready for tenants after Christmas

The $90 million transformation of Westdale Mall in southwest Cedar Rapids has begun with the removal of interior fixtures, carpeting and other items from the 99,000-square-foot building that formerly housed Von Maur department store.

Crews from D.W. Zinser of Walford have been preparing the building for remodeling into a series of smaller stores, according to Lisa Rowe, Westdale general manager.

"We are still ironing out details with potential tenants for the former Von Maur space," Rowe said. "We won't start building out the store spaces until we have a clear idea of exactly the sizes we need.

"We hope to have that done by the end of this year and ready for tenants after Christmas. Everyone is staying where they are until after Christmas."

After the interior demolition of the former Von Maur store is completed, Rowe said Zinser crews will start the demolition process for the 112,000-square-foot former Montgomery Ward building.

"When we start taking down the Montgomery Ward building in July, we also will be doing a lot of site work in the parking lot area," Rowe said. "We also will be moving some dirt to create pad sites along Edgewood Road.

"We're working with current tenants and potential new tenants for those pad sites."

While the Westdale project will evolve as leases are signed and new buildings constructed, Rowe said transformation of the 92-acre site by Frew Development Group of Denver, Colo., will bring a new concept to Eastern Iowa.

"We are using the same architect that built SouthGlenn Mall in Denver for our redevelopment," Rowe said.

"From what I understand, SouthGlenn was an older mall with some issues that was completely redeveloped. It has more of a Main Street kind of feel to it, with a big park area in the center and stores facing it."

John Frew, president of Frew Development, has described the transformed Westdale as a “multi-use destination” with commercial, residential and office uses as well a park, trails and a hotel. His plan involves retaining J.C. Penney and Younkers as anchors while demolishing the remaining sections of the 34-year-old shopping mall.

The Cedar Rapids City Council offered $5 million for site preparation activities, reimbursement of 100 percent of the increased property tax revenues generated by the redevelopment for a 12-year period estimated at $20 million, and projected $20 million of tax increment that would repay the initial $5 million bond, with an estimated $13 million reimbursed to the developer annually.

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