116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
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Fulton Lofts breaks ground in NewBo District
Project is a ‘perfect illustration' of housing needed’ in Cedar Rapids, city manager says
CEDAR RAPIDS — A site in the New Bohemia District that has languished for years after the 2008 flood soon will be transformed into commercial space and new housing units.
LTRI LLC, the development team led by Chad Pelley, broke ground Wednesday on the $9.8 million mixed-use project from 1218 to 1310 Third St. SE near the Olympic South Side Theater.
The Fulton Lofts building will have first-floor commercial space and 34 market-rate rental units in the growing neighborhood that serves as Cedar Rapids’ arts and cultural hub.
The facility will include amenities such as a rooftop gathering space, a raised patio on the first floor, a spot for public art on the exterior walls and greenery and plants around the perimeter. It will have covered parking in the rear and 25 surface parking spaces.
“The lofts are a perfect illustration of the kind of housing that we need for our city to move forward, enhancing quality of life for our residents and continuing the momentum (and) investment in the city's core neighborhoods, and in particular, New Bohemia,” City Manager Jeff Pomeranz said.
Pelley said the development team is pushing the envelope in creating differences in the project — with some larger 2,000-square-foot units and with smaller commercial space catering to local businesses.
“I get to play in the dirt, create homes and jobs, and I can't think of anything more fun and more rewarding,” Pelley said. “ … We're trying to harmoniously team these commercial spaces so they feel like an amenity to these residents.”
Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority and Iowa Finance Authority, said the project took the development team, city and state partners with an “unwavering shared goal of developing quality homes for the Cedar Rapids workforce.”
Durham said she appreciated the incorporation of art into the building design — an example of place-making that helps people enjoy a place’s authenticity.
Iowa needs an additional 42,000 homes by 2030 to keep up with demand in a state where the housing stock is among the oldest in the nation, Durham said.
“These needs only underscore the importance of skilled contractors and proactive communities and partnerships like the ones we're seeing here today to meet our housing demand,” Durham said. “We know that Iowa families, communities and businesses will thrive when all Iowans have access to homes they can afford.”
Construction will start soon and should wrap up by Nov. 30, 2024.
The city is providing incentives — a reimbursement of 100 percent of the incremental taxes the project generates, up to $1.67 million net present value or for a period of 20 years.
No fewer than five full-time employees must be employed at the development on or after Nov. 1, 2025.
The Iowa Economic Development Authority has awarded the project $660,000 in workforce housing tax credits and $900,000 in brownfield/grayfield tax credits.
These layers of financial assistance are key to getting a project done, Pomeranz said.
This project adds to other work to add housing in the area such as the redevelopment of the Loftus Lumber site into a mixed-use facility with 180 rental units as well as Coralville-based Watts Group’s $20 million NewBo Lofts development that will add two 55-unit buildings.
Some of these projects have been too difficult or too expensive, facing too many obstacles to come to fruition, Pomeranz said, so many of these properties have sat empty for years, but now there is finally development.
“It's just a very, very exciting time, and it shows the promise and the potential of the city of Cedar Rapids,” Pomeranz said.
These mixed-use developments enhance street-level pedestrian activities that are critical to attracting new businesses and supporting retailers and small businesses in The District: Czech Village and New Bohemia, Pomeranz said.
“It’s vibrant, it’s growing,” said Jeff Morrow, president of The District’s board. “Development groups have a choice of where to spend their dollars, and it’s significant resources that they invest in our community, and we are ecstatic that they've chosen The District.”
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