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$64 million phased development to bring housing, commercial space to southwest Cedar Rapids
CEDAR RAPIDS - A $64 million mixed-use development in the southwest quadrant will bring more housing to a city where demand for it exceeds supply and more jobs to a growing part of town.
The Cedar Rapids City Council approved an agreement with APD LLC for the American Prairie Project to construct a $64 million mixed-use development along and south of Wright Brothers Boulevard SW and west of Kirkwood Boulevard SW.
The development will include four commercial buildings, where no less than 15 full-time employees are to be employed under the terms of the agreement. There would also be 62 row house buildings on this site containing threeplexes through eightplexes with alley access, providing nearly 400 residential units once the whole development is complete.
Caleb Mason, city economic development analyst, said the developer would incorporate open space and connect it to Cedar Rapids' trail network.
The development plan calls for work to be done in phases, with infrastructure and site preparation beginning in June and vertical construction starting October 2022, and completion slated for December 2024.
After this first phase, work on the residential facilities - done in five phases - is expected to start January 2024 and take three years per phase. The sixth phase encompassing construction of the final residential units is not expected to be wrapped up until December 2033.
The council approved financial incentives for the project in September, and in November gave the OK to establish an urban renewal area as the mechanism to provide those incentives. Mason said it qualifies under the city's large site master plan economic development program requiring 15 or more acres to have a mix of uses and incorporate certain design standards.
Cedar Rapids would kick in standard incentives - a 10-year, 50 percent reimbursement for the commercial component and a 10-year, 100 percent reimbursement for the residential part. Those incentives are subject to meeting the employment threshold.
The agreement pertains to a small part of the overall development, Mason said. The duplexes are not included in that as they are associated with a future phase.
This project adds to the development activity in this part of town. Construction began last year on global company BAE Systems' $139 million classified aerospace defense facility at the corner of 76th Avenue and Sixth Street SW, and it is one of the largest projects in city history.
Council member Dale Todd said he thought the project would make a 'significant difference” in the southwest quadrant as time goes on.
'A $64 million investment is not something to take lightly,” Todd said. 'It's a big deal. How it'll impact the school district and others 10, 15 years down the road, I think it'll be in everybody's best interest.”
Council members previously had raised questions about water issues to the south of the property. To address that problem, Mason said a retention pond would become a dry basin designed to capture and retain water, changing its current function and configuration to be appropriate for the development.
'The property as it was, was struggling with water,” said council member Ashley Vanorny, who sits on the council's Development Committee. 'So adding this quantity of cement to this parcel of land was something we really wanted to speak to and address because we didn't want to inherit any water problems that then would be ours to maintain.”
She added that addressing this also would be helpful to area farmers.
Mayor Brad Hart said, 'I do like to see additional housing and some commercial development in an area that continues to grow in the number of employees in that area, so I think that's terrific.”
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