Business

Skogmans unveil plans for new downtown Cedar Rapids office

The new office would require the demolition of three other buildings

A rendering shows the proposed look of the new downtown headquarters for Skogman Cos. The new building would replace three existing structures at the corner of First Avenue and Fifth Street SE downtown. The real estate company plans to break ground in June 2018. (Skogman Cos.)
A rendering shows the proposed look of the new downtown headquarters for Skogman Cos. The new building would replace three existing structures at the corner of First Avenue and Fifth Street SE downtown. The real estate company plans to break ground in June 2018. (Skogman Cos.)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — The Skogman Cos. plans to spend more than $11 million on a new downtown headquarters, the company announced Tuesday.

The three-floor office building will replace three existing structures, including the historic Bever Building, in the 400 block of First Avenue SE. The 40,000-square-foot space will serve as a new home base for Skogman, a family of real estate companies based in Cedar Rapids.

“Skogman Companies has been present in downtown Cedar Rapids since 1954,” Skogman Realty President Chris Skogman said in a news release. “The new location provides an office atmosphere that is productive and collaborative as well as inviting for employees and customers alike.”

In addition to the Bever Building, Skogman Cos. would also demolish two adjacent structures previously occupied by Sub City and Albert Auto Service. The company is currently based in a building next to the Bever, known as the First Avenue Building, 411 First Ave. SE, which would not be demolished.

Demolition of the existing buildings could start in April or May, Chris Skogman said in an email. The company expects to break ground on the new building in June, according to the news release. Completion is expected late summer 2019, but timelines could shift.

Earlier this month, the Cedar Rapids Historic Preservation Commission put a 60-day hold on the demolition of the current structures.

Skogman Cos.’ plans first emerged last year after the Iowa Economic Development Authority awarded the company $750,000 in redevelopment tax credits. The company has also applied to the city of Cedar Rapids for financial assistance, Skogman said.

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Skogman said Tuesday the company initially looked at renovating its existing home, but a renovation was not financially or structurally feasible for its needs. In the new building, employees will be able to work more closely together than they can currently, Skogman said.

“What requires six floors in our current office can be consolidated into two floors in the new building, which we feel will be beneficial both operationally and culturally for our companies,” he said in an email.

About 75 agents and 35 employees work downtown now, Skogman said. The third floor of the new building will be leased to a yet-to-be-determined office tenant.

Developer Steve Emerson, who owns the First Avenue Building, said he wants to restore that building closer to its original look after Skogman Cos. moves out. The renovation would include removal of the building’s metal panels and bringing back its larger windows. He said he would renovate the interior to make it suitable for future office tenants.

“I don’t have any users, tenants, anything like that, but that would ultimately be the goal is to make that a cool, historic icon again,” Emerson said.

The five-story First Avenue Building was previously the original headquarters of the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Northern Railway.

“It’s a significant building in the historic fabric of the downtown,” Emerson said.

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

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