Construction of CRST riverfront headquarters ready to start

Groundbreaking set for Wednesday

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Groundbreaking is set for Wednesday on CRST International Inc.’s new 11-story, $37-million headquarters on the downtown riverfront.

The site across First Street SE from the Alliant Energy tower is being prepared for construction.

Most noticeably, the 100 or so vehicles that parked in a temporary lot since fall 2011 have moved to other parking spots in the downtown.

Marc Gullickson, president of Ryan’s Midwest region, said construction will begin immediately after Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony with excavation and removal of foundation material from earlier structures on the site.

The building will be ready for occupancy in the first quarter of 2016, he said.

The CRST site, in the 200 block of First Street SE, previously was home to the First Street Parkade, which was slated for demolition for some years and was demolished in the summer of 2011 after sustaining flood damage in 2008.

On Saturday, another sign of change was the removal of 13 trees from the CRST site, which were added when the surface parking lot was put in place in 2011.

Daniel Gibbins, the city’s parks superintendent, said the city is moving the two-year-old trees to Noelridge and Cherry Hill parks. It’s not the best time of the year to move trees, but the recent wet soil conditions should help the trees survive, he said.

In 2011, five downtown entities created Short Term Parking Solution LC and financed the temporary parking lot’s construction with the thought that it would provide parking until the city found a company to build on the site.

Olson, a commercial Realtor and downtown property owner, is one of the partners in Short Term Parking Solution LC.

The city has built two new downtown parking ramps since the First Street Parkade came down and the temporary lot was put in place in 2011.

Olson said the lights from the temporary lot have been put in storage. His group, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and Republic Parking, which operates the downtown parking system, are paying to move the trees.

The new CRST building will feature three floors of parking, with the first floor including some retail space. Eight floors of office space will sit atop the parking.

Bankers Trust will serve as an anchor tenant in the building and occupy its top two floors plus retail space on the first floor. CRST will occupy two floors of the building as well.

City Manager Jeff Pomeranz has called the new building, designed by OPN Architects Inc. of Cedar Rapids, a “statement building” for the city and “further evidence” of downtown’s “rebirth” six years after historic Flood of 2008.

The city is providing property-tax incentives for the CRST project and has agreed to convert Second and Third avenues SE in the heart of downtown from one-way streets to two-way streets to provide better customer access to the CRST building.

Ryan’s Gullickson said the CRST’s 11-story building will be 173 tall at its tallest point. The Alliant Energy tower across the street is 21 stories and about 285 feet tall.

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