116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Four Cedar Rapids projects were awarded $900,000 in federal COVID-19 relief dollars Tuesday, giving a boost to transitional housing for people experiencing homelessness, making the arts more accessible, creating a dog park and a park alongside the westside public library.
Of the city’s overall $28 million award, about $15.67 million has gone toward affordable housing and social services, $10 million was put toward westside flood control and $1.835 million has supported workforce initiatives.
Using American Rescue Plan Act funds, the Cedar Rapids City Council doled out federal money Tuesday to additional projects. Some of the money came from $400,000 in unspent funds to replenish lost hotel-motel tax revenue to nonprofits, while the rest had not yet been allocated.
Willis Dady Works
The first project is the renovation of the historic Chandler Pump Co. building, 707 B Ave. NW, to create 13 affordable units for transitional housing for those experiencing homelessness. This is part of Willis Dady Homeless Services’ Willis Dady Works program.
The housing component of the Chandler Pump building project pairs with the employment hub and training center at 800 First Ave. NW. The hub is a place where Willis Dady clients can be employed and trained in various career skills.
“It really does support having both the employment opportunity as well as the housing secured to help people experiencing or at risk of homelessness create that foundation to move forward,” city Community Development Director Jennifer Pratt said.
The city awarded the requested $250,000, which will complete the final funding gap needed to complete the project, along with $100,000 in private donations.
In February, the council awarded $559,703 in ARPA funds to the employment hub project, a renovation of the historic McLanahan building.
Core neighborhood dog park
In line with the council’s priority to add more dog parks, the council awarded $200,000 toward the creation of a new one.
Amenities such as dog parks are intended to support and attract new residential units to the urban core — downtown, the MedQuarter, Czech Village and New Bohemia neighborhoods — where the population is growing.
It also is aligned with the 15-minute neighborhood concept, Pratt said, where all amenities are accessible within a 15-minute walk. That helps eliminate vehicular trips and fosters relationships among residents.
“We know that is a positive to help build that community,” Pratt said.
City staff are analyzing several possible sites, so this funding will speed up the development of a dog park in the core of Cedar Rapids.
“Through the pandemic, outdoor recreational area became even more important” for residents’ physical and mental health, Pratt said.
Westside library and Opportunity Center park
During the city’s public outreach efforts to draft the Westdale Area Action Plan, many residents identified open space as a key need for the area’s growth.
The council awarded $100,000 to go toward the design of a park coinciding with the building design of the $25 million permanent westside Cedar Rapids Public Library and Opportunity Center at 27 acres at the corner of 20th Avenue and Wiley Boulevard SW.
The permanent facility will replace the Ladd Library, 3750 Williams Blvd. SW, a leased space that opened in 2013 and was established through a grant from the Hall-Perrine Foundation.
This award will supplement $6 million in ARPA funds the council awarded to the project in October. The Linn County Board of Supervisors also previously awarded $4 million of the county’s ARPA funds to the project.
The Cedar Rapids Library Foundation is kicking off the building design phase with OPN Architects. Coordinating design of the building and the park will “help us maximize the indoor/outdoor experience for residents,” Pratt said.
Theatre Cedar Rapids
Theatre Cedar Rapids received $350,000 to undergo an extensive enhancement of its historic building at 102 Third St. SE to make accessibility improvements.
The organization aims to make the space accessible for programming and make the stage accessible for wheelchairs, in an effort to give people with disabilities access to the arts and community quality-of-life amenities, Pratt said.
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