116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Cedar Rapids is seeking $39.5 million in state funds to help fuel a half-dozen development and outdoor recreation projects in the downtown area totaling $261 million. The funds would come through the state's Reinvestment District program, which steers hotel-motel and sales taxes generated in communities into 'transformational development” projects.
There's $100 million available, and 10 applicants have submitted more than $200 million in requests. The competition will be tough, but we believe the Cedar Rapids' proposal deserves funding.
Yes, Cedar Rapids' request is the largest. But more than half of the other applications come from central Iowa, including five in the Des Moines metro totaling $97.5 million and a $21.4 million request from Ames for a hotel and convention center project.
During the first round of Reinvestment District Grants in 2014 and 2015, Des Moines received the largest award, $36 million for a list of projects in the downtown area.
Officials say geographic balance may be a factor in scoring the projects, which is good news.
And we're not suggesting Cedar Rapids' bid should be funded simply because it's our turn. These are high-quality development projects that would transform and enhance the city's core and build on major investments made since the flood of 2008.
Included in the application is First and First West, which seeks to bring a Big Grove Brewery, other commercial businesses and housing to the site once slated for a Cedar Rapids casino. The Hotels at Guaranty Bank, with the renovation of the historic building into one of two hotels on the site, is on the list. The 25-story High-rise at Paramount, with housing, a grocery store and rooftop restaurant is included as well as efforts to develop green space and outdoor recreation at the Eighth Avenue pump station.
A plaza on Fourth Street SE and a 5-in-1 Dam river bypass channel are also included in the application.
It's a broad array of projects that would draw people downtown, to live, take in entertainment venues, grab a meal or enjoy recreational opportunities. After a year marked by a pandemic and a derecho, these ambitious plans are particularly appealing.
Projects that score 70 points or higher on the Economic Development Authority's scoring formula will present their projects to the IEDA Board, which has the final say on who gets funding and how much. We believe Cedar Rapids will make the cut, and we urge the board to make an investment in a resilient city looking to the future.
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