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News Track: What's going on with Ellis Landings?

Fall finish planned for riverfront condos in northwest Cedar Rapids

Construction continues on the 27-unit Ellis Landings Condominiums project at 1871 Ellis Blvd. NW in the Cedar Rapids’ Time Check neighborhood. Developer Jim Happel asked the city to give Ellis Landings the address of 1871 Ellis Blvd. NW to honor council member Ann Poe, whose family home was on the adjacent lot for 80 years before the 2008 flood. (Thomas Friestad/The Gazette)
Construction continues on the 27-unit Ellis Landings Condominiums project at 1871 Ellis Blvd. NW in the Cedar Rapids’ Time Check neighborhood. Developer Jim Happel asked the city to give Ellis Landings the address of 1871 Ellis Blvd. NW to honor council member Ann Poe, whose family home was on the adjacent lot for 80 years before the 2008 flood. (Thomas Friestad/The Gazette)
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This is News Track, where Gazette reporters revisit past coverage and see what’s new.

Background

The Flood of 2008 destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses in the Time Check neighborhood in northwest Cedar Rapids.

Redevelopment of properties in the northwest quadrant has lagged behind other resurgent areas. So the Cedar Rapids City Council welcomed a plan from developers Jim Happel and Steve Emerson to build the Ellis Landings Condominiums — complete with a 16-foot flood wall — at 1871 Ellis Blvd. NW.

Groundbreaking for the 27-unit complex took place June 28, 2018, following discussions with city officials over development and zoning that dated back to at least 2015.

What’s happened since

Construction of the project’s 350-foot-long flood wall and parking garage is now complete, and workers are aiming to finish the remaining three stories by the end of November so families can start moving in Dec. 1.

“I’m hoping it’ll bring more developers in,” said Jim Happel of Happel Enterprises. “It’s setting the tone, that there can be upscale stuff built along the river. It’s the only place in Cedar Rapids where you can build along the river, above the dam, where you can be right on the water.”

The development features first-level patios and balconies, with views of the Cedar River and Ellis Park, a central atrium with a gathering area, a roof lighthouse, and a bike trail and dock behind the building.

After the groundbreaking, dealings with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources delayed construction about two months, and inclement weather kept workers from laying clay to protect the development from rising groundwater for another two weeks, Happel said.

DNR officials reviewed the condo construction and approved flood plain and sovereign lands permits in October, following a required 30-day notification period for adjacent property owners, most of whom supported the project, department documents show.

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The project’s cost is poised to exceed the initially projected $6.2 million, coming in at about $7.5 million for the condos and $2.4 million for the flood wall, Happel said.

More than half of the 27 condos have been sold, with pricing for the remaining units ranging from $225,000 for one-bedrooms to $448,000 for the four three-bedroom penthouses.

The units are for sale, not for rent. The city will provide a 10-year, 100 percent property tax break for owners of the condos.

Happel said he is interested in future development near Ellis Landings, including possible coffee and beauty shops and a restaurant, though he noted those plans hinge on negotiations with the city, which owns the nearby land, including what flood protections would be required.

l Comments: (319) 398-8366; thomas.friestad@thegazette.com

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