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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
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NewBo mixed-use development will add 34 rental units to Cedar Rapids
Project in Cedar Rapids’ arts and cultural district took ‘all of us working together’ to finance, developer says
CEDAR RAPIDS — Empty land in the New Bohemia District will soon undergo a $9.8 million transformation into a mixed-use facility, adding new rental units and retail space.
The Cedar Rapids City Council last spring approved awarding tax incentives to support the project on the land from 1218 to 1310 Third St. SE. This is the space next to a parking lot adjacent to Brewhemia and The Olympic South Side Theater.
Chad Pelley is spearheading the development group, LTRI LLC, that’s behind the project.
What’s happened since
The council on Tuesday signed off on a development agreement finalizing project terms, so the facility is one step closer to coming to life.
The four-story mixed-use facility will add 34 residential units renting at market rate on the second through fourth floors. The first floor will include commercial space in the front and covered parking in the rear, in addition to 25 surface parking spaces.
Additionally, the facility will include some rooftop gathering space, a raised patio on the first floor, a spot for public art on the exterior walls and some greenery and plants around the perimeter.
The project includes two lots — at 1302 and 1306 Third St. SE — that had been owned by the city before being transferred. The purchase price for those properties is $24,200.
City Economic Development Coordinator Scott Mather said the developer will have to incorporate flood mitigation measures because the building sits in the 100-year flood plain.
Construction is expected to start by July 1 and wrap up by Nov. 30, 2024.
The city will reimburse 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.
In the fall, the Iowa Economic Development Authority awarded $660,000 in workforce housing tax credits and $900,000 in brownfield/grayfield tax credits to support the project.
Council member Dale Todd — who represents District 3, which encompasses NewBo — said this is a property that’s languished, but this project demonstrates the creative use of financing by the developer to move it from a vision to reality.
“It should demonstrate to those properties that are still languishing out there from the flood of 2008 that now is the time to develop in NewBo,” Todd said. “The city has the tools to make these kind of projects happen.”
Pelley said he’s excited to see this project come to life, as it’s been in the works for several years and is in a neighborhood that’s seen a great deal of development since it was devastated in the 2008 flood.
He sits on the board of the Czech Village/New Bohemia Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District, which uses funds for projects such as murals and streetscape improvements.
With that experience, Pelley said he wanted to use the public art spot on the building’s exterior to showcase art from different individuals and groups.
“This is the arts and cultural district,” Pelley said.
Instead of balconies, which Pelley said would have detracted from the building’s full potential, he said the outdoor space on the first floor will allow people to engage with each other and the activity that occurs in the neighborhood.
“It’s a vibrant neighborhood,” Pelley said. “There’s a lot going on with the bicycle trails and restaurants and some of the activities.”
Pelley, who previously worked with Hiawatha-based Ahmann Companies, has been involved with other projects in NewBo, such as The Depot, 329 building, Geonetric and NewBo Station, the mixed-use building that houses Raygun and Crosby’s.
This is his first project after “leaving the nest,” he said, but Ahmann’s company Fusion Architects did the design.
There will be a mix of units, from studio to three-bedroom, but Pelley said the developers intentionally looked to step up the design to be unique and offer some larger units — up to approximately 2,000 square feet — that he said are lacking in the community.
That means units will have taller ceilings and higher-end finishes. As for the first-floor commercial space, he said there’ll be a common entry core and restrooms, as well as amenities such as a dog wash station, a package room and bike storage for residents.
He said that common area creates a smaller space for commercial tenants, essentially leading to smaller retail spaces that might attract tenants such as a yoga studio or a bakery, for instance.
“It’s a project that’s near and dear to my heart for many reasons. It’s one of those ones that takes all of us working together,” Pelley said, referring to the layers of financing from the city and state. “ … If we didn’t have that, this project wouldn’t be possible.”
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