Iowa Economic Development Authority approves up to $2.6 million in tax credits for brownfield, grayfield developments in Cedar Rapids

Projects in Vinton, Solon also receive credits

Vinton Braille School LLC received $200,000 that it will use to convert the 115-year-old hospital into a brewpub. Above,
Vinton Braille School LLC received $200,000 that it will use to convert the 115-year-old hospital into a brewpub. Above, the Old Hospital at the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School seen in 2008. (The Gazette)

The Iowa Economic Development Authority approved up to $2.6 million in brownfield and grayfield tax credits for projects in Cedar Rapids at its monthly board meeting Friday morning.

The projects are:

• The Hub LLC received up to $1 million for its $15 million brownfield development at 916 16th St. NE, near Mount Mercy University, which will turn a former industrial equipment manufacturing site into 132 apartments across three buildings.

• TWG Development received up to $900,000 for its brownfield development of the Banjo Block, at the corner of Fifth St. SE and Fourth Ave. in downtown Cedar Rapids. That project would convert one city block into a mix of apartments, retail, a pool and fitness center.

• Willis Dady Emergency Shelter received $550,000 for its $2.6 million project that will renovate the old Chandler Pumps warehouse into housing for those at risk of homelessness and as an employment services center. Willis Dady also must deal with derecho damage to complete the project.

“That building took a big hit,” said Mike Lukan, Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance local business project specialist. “It was a two-story building, and when the derecho got done with it, it was a one-story building.”

Other IEDA brownfield and grayfield approvals announced Friday included $50,000 for a restaurant at 615 K Ave. NW in the city’s Time Check neighborhood, and $100,000 for OFB LLC’s four-unit housing at 1001 Fifth St. SE, behind NewBo City Market.

The state defines a brownfield as an “abandoned, idled or underutilized industrial or commercial properties where real or perceived environmental contamination prevents productive expansion or redevelopment.”


Grayfields are already developed, but its original use is outdated or “prevents a better or more efficient use of the property.”

“Seeing these projects move ahead are important for economic recovery,” said Doug Neumann, executive director of the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance.

“These awards make projects much more certain that they’re going to happen.”

Neumann said cities with these projects are “winning in three kinds of ways” — the development itself, the loss of an eyesore and a “boost” to the surrounding neighborhood.

Mike Lukan, Economic Alliance local business project specialist, said the grayfield and brownfield tax credit applications are highly competitive.

The Economic Alliance begins work with potential applicants three months before the applications open.

“What we do is try to help them put together the best application they possibly can,” Lukan said. “We’re competing with other brownfield/grayfield projects throughout the entire state.”

Elsewhere in the Corridor:

• Ahsure Investments in Solon received a $600,000 grayfield credit to renovate three buildings and construct two buildings with a mix of commercial and residential space.

• Vinton Braille School LLC received $200,000 that it will use to convert a 115-year-old hospital into a brewpub.


The $1.3 million project is part of Hobart Historic Restoration’s $20 million effort to redevelop the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School campus. The school closed in 2011.

More than a quarter of the brownfield and grayfield tax credits approved by IEDA went to Cedar Rapids developments.

Since 2016, IEDA has approved about $15 million for Cedar Rapids projects.

“We got good projects here,” Lukan said. “We have areas that developers are willing to redevelop.”

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