116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Iowa Economic Development Authority staff are recommending a state panel provisionally award $9 million to Cedar Rapids to fuel “transformational” developments in the urban core, according to documents released Thursday — far less than the $39.5 million the city had sought from the board to boost downtown growth.
The authority’s board is scheduled to make provisional awards Friday, allocating $100 million to six Iowa communities under the state’s Reinvestment District program. Under the agency staff’s recommendations, Cedar Rapids — despite requesting the most — would receive the smallest award of all communities, which asked for a combined $151.6 million through the competitive program.
The city of Cedar Rapids sought $39.5 million to support 15 percent of an overall proposal exceeding $261 million across six projects, which would generate nearly $7 million a year in property taxes.
The IEDA board in April narrowed an original pool of 10 applicants to six proposals it scored high enough. The other communities that made that first cut and also presented to the board were Des Moines, Fort Dodge, Newton and Ames and Urbandale, which teamed up with Des Moines.
The competitive program reinvests sales and hotel-motel tax revenues to cities for use in projects that improve the quality of life and create or enhance recreational opportunities — and ultimately attract more people.
Cedar Rapids’ proposed district encompasses the mixed-use First and First West development featuring a Big Grove microbrewery; Marriott hotels at the Guaranty Bank Building and Old World Theater site; a high-rise near the Paramount Theatre; and a Fourth Avenue SE plaza. It also includes some public projects: a mixed-use Eighth Avenue SW pump station and a 5-in-1 Dam bypass channel with white-water rafting and other water recreation.
Cedar Rapids officials had said funding awarded to Cedar Rapids would give a needed boost to keystone downtown projects at development-ready sites. The developments would tap into underused sites and connect residents and visitors with the Cedar River, fueling growth in the city after it was struck by natural disasters including the 2008 flood and last summer’s derecho.
In Cedar Rapids’ officials pitch to the board in April, they touted locked-in private sector support for multimillion-dollar projects included in the district. With a mix of entertainment, retail and multifamily residential development in the district, city officials also hoped the investment in these projects would help the Cedar Rapids Tourism Office attract larger conventions and book more overnight guests in local hotels.
After the IEDA board approves provisional awards at its Friday morning meeting, cities have until February 2022 to submit final applications.
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