CEDAR RAPIDS — Three developments representing more than $60 million in investment are hitting milestones this week in Cedar Rapids.
These include ceremonial ground breakings for a Collins Community Credit Union headquarters on Blairs Ferry Road NE and College Commons and a mixed-use building on First Avenue NE, as well as the unveiling of the redevelopment of the Guaranty Bank Building block in downtown.
“Those are really important projects for the city,” City Manager Jeff Pomeranz said. “It’s a good day when you are celebrating $100 million in new commitment, new value into the community. It’s a real positive and indicative of the kind of growth we see in the community.”
City leaders and investors from the Heart of America Group, which is proposing restoring the Guaranty Bank Building at Third Street and Third Avenue SE into a boutique hotel, will hold a news conference Thursday to preview the project before it goes before City Council for the first time next week. The event is at the bank building at 3 p.m. Thursday.
The $51 million project would also include construction of a second, new hotel, restore the World Theater foyer, and include construction on adjacent vacant land.
Pomeranz called the development important to attracting conferences and events to the downtown area, which now only has hotel space at the DoubleTree. He said restoration of the DoubleTree and creation of the attached convention center have inspired this type of additional investment in the downtown.
“In order to continue competing for conferences and meetings and conventions, we need projects like this,” he said. “These hotels will be great additions to the citizens of Cedar Rapids and the visiting public.”
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Also Thursday, officials will gather around noon to mark the beginning of construction of the 100,000-square-foot Collins Community headquarters at 1005 Blairs Ferry Road NE in Hunter Companies’ Northtowne Market across from Target. Company leaders did not have a budget estimate because the project scope still is being refined, but noted Northtowne Market is projected to be a $70 million development.
In addition to the headquarters, the structure will house office, retail and restaurant space. Construction is expected to begin in earnest in the spring and be completed in spring 2020.
“The building will be first-class and will position the credit union well for growth and expansion into the coming decades,” Saren Johnson, project manager of Hunter Companies, said in a statement.
On Wednesday, Brent and Carissa Votroubek, the couple developing College Commons at the northeast corner of First and 14th Street NE, held a ground breaking. The three-story $6.4 million project has commitments from Jimmy John’s, Scooter’s Coffee and H&R Block, and has a laundromat on the ground level and plans for 16 apartments in the upper floors. This would be the first new project in the area now referred to a the College District because of its proximity to Coe College and Mount Mercy University.
“Buildings in that area had been in disrepair and were not a great reflection of our community,” Pomeranz said. “It’s been a longtime goal of redeveloping that area. I’m pleased to see two developers have made commitment to the redevelopment of First Avenue.”
Local businessman John Khairallah, who started Zio Johno’s and owns Via Sofia’s Italian Kitchen, also has plans for a new retail strip across the street.
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