Government

Jimmy John's, Scooter's proposed on First Avenue

Cedar Rapids recommends nearly $1M in tax incentives

This rendering shows the three-story, mixed-use building proposed for the northeast corner of First Avenue East at 14th Street NE in Cedar Rapids. The City Council on Tuesday night unanimously agreed to negotiate a financial incentive plan for the project. (H and V Development)
This rendering shows the three-story, mixed-use building proposed for the northeast corner of First Avenue East at 14th Street NE in Cedar Rapids. The City Council on Tuesday night unanimously agreed to negotiate a financial incentive plan for the project. (H and V Development)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — A Jimmy John’s and Scooter’s Coffee could be coming to First Avenue NE as part of a planned redevelopment of a key block on the commercial strip near downtown.

At least one or two more unnamed tenants are also “firmly committed” to the $6.4 million, three-story, mixed-use building slated for the northeast corner of First and 14th Street NE, said Caleb Mason, an economic development analyst for the city.

“We feel where we landed here is a very good urban design, walkable through the neighborhood, and set the standard for this area as we develop,” Mason said.

The City Council unanimously agreed to negotiate a financial incentive plan richer than what the city normally offers for the project. Council member Scott Olson abstained and council member Ann Poe was absent.

Meanwhile, historic preservation advocates have raised concerns about demolishing the 1905-built structure being used an apartment house.

Mason noted the house, which may have connections to Grant Wood, can’t be incorporated into the site plan but said the developer has expressed a willingness to work with historic preservation advocates to either relocate or salvage the structure.

H and V Development, represented by Brent Votroubek, proposed the project, which would replace the apartment house, a two-story office building and two smaller commercial buildings, which housed a dentist office and cigarette outlet, near the Fas Fuel gas station.

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Commercial uses would go on the building’s first floor, and 16 market-rate apartments would be located on the second and third floor.

The project would create an estimated 50 new jobs through the new retailers, according to the city.

City staff recommended a 13-year, 100 percent tax break on new property value.

In the past, such projects would be eligible for a state workforce housing tax credit, but the state has stopped accepting applications. The city agreed to step in where the state might have otherwise — an estimated $300,000 to $400,000 — to fill the financial gap needed to bring the project to life.

Mason and City Council members said this particular project was uniquely qualified for the extra public money because the project represents infill development — a city priority — and is the first new development in the area in years.

The project is projected to generate $1.2 million in taxes over 13 years, of which $937,736 would be reimbursed to the developer.

City Council member Tyler Olson called on city staff to examine how the city should structure its local incentives to account for the state halting the tax credit program, which has been used for a number of projects.

In other news:

l The council approved issuing up to $40.5 million in general obligation bonds, $20 million in sewer revenue bonds and $16 million in water revenue bonds. About $31 million of the total amount will be used to pay off debt, while the remainder will be used for a variety of projects, such as sidewalks, streets work and compliance projects for the Americans with Disabilities Act.

l The city has agreed to sell two pieces of public land to adjacent property owners after 51st Street NE was realigned.

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Warrior Enterprises, which owns the property where McGrath Auto operates at 1548 Collins Rd. NE, will acquire 0.68 acres for $396,315, plus standard 5 percent closing costs of $19,816, and has agreed to pay publication and recording fees, according to city documents.

Exceptional Property Masters LLC, 1501 51st St. NE, will acquire 0.12 acres for $64,943, plus standard 5 percent closing costs of $3,247, and has agreed to pay publication and recording fees. The appraised value of an adjacent property was used to set the value.

l Comments: (319) 339-3177; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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