Business

Bever Building demolition put on hold

Newstrack: Skogman Realty wants to construct a new building downtown

The 400 block of First Avenue SE including Albert Auto Service (from left), Sub City, Bever building, and Skogman building in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
The 400 block of First Avenue SE including Albert Auto Service (from left), Sub City, Bever building, and Skogman building in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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The Skogman family of companies wants to demolish three buildings on First Avenue in downtown Cedar Rapids to make way for a new office building.

The three buildings include the former spots for Albert Auto Service and Sub City, 427 and 421 First Ave. SE. Those two businesses now are closed.

Demolition would also include the Bever Building, 417 First Ave., which was built in 1923. Now vacant, it is named after the Cedar Rapids banking and real estate family that also donated land for Bever Park.

Skogman owns all three buildings, but works in one next door.

The real estate company plans to build a new 40,000- to 42,000-square-foot, three-story building that would replace the three structures. The Iowa Economic Development Authority awarded Skogman $750,000 in redevelopment tax credits for the project last October.

WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE

Skogman has requested demolition permits for the three structures, which kicked off a review process by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.

The commission met Feb. 8 to review Skogman’s plans. Commission members put a 60-day hold on any demolition to allow them more time to gather information, photos and possibly salvage portions of the buildings.

The 60-day hold is the only formal action the commission can take.

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Both the Bever Building and the adjacent structure that formerly held Sub City each contribute to Cedar Rapids’ downtown historic district. Demolition of both would weaken the district’s historical significance, according to a presentation given to commission members.

“While the percentage might seem small to you, as each building is plucked away or demolished out of the district, that weakens the district further and further,” commission member Amanda Mcknight-Grafton said at the meeting.

The third structure that held Albert Auto Service does not contribute to the district.

At the meeting, Skogman Realty President Chris Skogman said the company initially looked at whether it could renovate its current office space, 411 First Ave. SE.

“We were more aware of the historical significance of the building we’re in because we’d occupied it for so long,” he said. “Through that process we found that we were going to be unable to do the things that we needed to do without sacrificing the historical relevance of that building.”

So, the company switched its plans to the site of the other three First Avenue buildings.

Chris Skogman also said the company looked at whether it could move the Bever Building or incorporate it into plans for the new office. Both were found not to be feasible, though, he said.

The company will consider whether it can integrate stonework that reads “Bever Building” — which currently adorns that building’s entranceway — into its new office.

Commission members had few details about the new building when they made their decision to place a hold and Skogman representatives declined to provide renderings of the proposed new building. Skogman Homes Operations Manager Hunter Skogman did say the new building would reflect the company’s current home and “not a super-modern building.”

Skogman representatives also declined to give more details about their plan for First Avenue after the meeting, except to say an announcement would be made in a few weeks.

l Comments: (319) 398-8366; matthew.patane@thegazette.com

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