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Cedar Rapids planners advance two housing projects with over 700 units combined

The American Prairie project, developed by Build to Suit, Inc., is slated to bring 583 new residential units to what currently are 140 agricultural acres off Wright Brothers Boulevard SW in Cedar Rapids. (Thomas Friestad/The Gazette)
The American Prairie project, developed by Build to Suit, Inc., is slated to bring 583 new residential units to what currently are 140 agricultural acres off Wright Brothers Boulevard SW in Cedar Rapids. (Thomas Friestad/The Gazette)
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Two Cedar Rapids housing projects totaling more than 700 new residences — one on the city’s outskirts and another downtown — are one step closer to final approval.

At their most recent meeting, on April 25, the City Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval for an amendment to the city’s future land-use map, to account for an extra 96 residential units proposed for the American Prairie project, on 140 acres on Wright Brothers Boulevard SW.

The commission also recommended rezoning 135 acres of the agricultural land, between Earhart Lane SW and Club Road, to a Suburban Residential Low Flex district and five acres to a Suburban Mixed Use Community Commercial district.

The American Prairie project will encompass 583 residential units, including single-family homes and duplexes on 119.7 acres, fourplexes and multifamily homes on 15.5 acres and commercial space on 4.8 acres.

The developer originally planned 487 units, and obtained the planners’ recommendation for approval in late January, but later revised some lots intended for single-family homes to house duplexes.

The site plans call for 4.22 units per acre, on fields currently owned by Deborah A. and David Krivanek, owners of Krivanek Farm.

Cedar Rapids council members voted in late January to approve the voluntary annexation of the farm into the city — a move that opens the land up to city services and potentially makes it more enticing to redevelop.

City officials said the American Prairie project likely will be built in phases and could take five to 10 years to complete.

Project documents show Coralville-based Build to Suit as the developer but listed applicant Jason Harder told the Gazette a different representative, who did not return phone calls, began handling the project several months ago.

The next step for the project will be a city council public hearing on the changes, said Zoning Administrator Vern Zakostelecky. Council members are scheduled to meet May 14, and Zakostelecky said the hearing is scheduled for council’s May 28 meeting.

At the same April meeting, the City Planning Commission voted in favor of a major design exception for a mixed-use development, allowing more continuous street frontage than city code normally permits within its Urban Neighborhood General district.

There, developer Richard Sova of Illinois-based Landover Corp. has plans to tear down a few long-vacant warehouses and build a $28 million apartment complex with 138 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments. The property had been home to Loftus Lumber.

The structure will fill 91,600 square feet of an 102,261-square foot block bordered by Ninth and 10th Avenues SE and Third Street SE, at the entrance to the New Bohemia District, with large retail spaces below and a courtyard above covered parking.

The city’s Urban Neighborhood General district, where the property sits, permits a maximum continuous street frontage of 150 feet, whereas the proposed new building would have a total 954 feet of frontage along the three adjacent streets.

In recommending the planners approve the exception, city staff said the varying architecture of the proposed facades will give the structure the appearance of several connected buildings, therefore meeting the intent of the code.

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The developer now will need to obtain a special exception for the continuous street frontage from the city board of adjustment, Zakostelecky said. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for May 13.

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

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