Business

Matthew 25 marketing a commercial building as a potential coffee shop

Nonprofit hopes the property along Ellis Boulevard can become a 'community gathering spot'

The Hosmer Building, 604 Ellis Blvd. NW, is owned by Matthew 25, a nonprofit that hopes someone will open a coffee shop or cafe in the building, which was built in 1920. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
The Hosmer Building, 604 Ellis Blvd. NW, is owned by Matthew 25, a nonprofit that hopes someone will open a coffee shop or cafe in the building, which was built in 1920. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — A local nonprofit known for its work rehabilitating homes has taken a small step toward doing the same for a commercial building.

Matthew 25, which has focused on revitalizing neighborhoods along Ellis Boulevard NW since the 2008 flood, has put a commercial building it owns at 604 Ellis Blvd. NW. on the market.

Executive Director Clint Twedt-Ball said Matthew 25 thinks the building can become a coffee shop and another marker for the area’s post-flood redevelopment.

“We’ve begun the process of cleaning it up and all that and are advertising, if there might be some sort of small business that would be a positive for the neighborhood to go in there,” he said.

Known as the Hosmer Building, the building has housed a grocery store, a number of bars and a hair salon, Twedt-Ball said.

About 2,560 square feet, it was built in 1920. Matthew 25 bought it in 2016 for $96,000, according to Linn County assessor records.

“What we’ve heard from the neighbors is they’d love to have a coffee shop or cafe that was open during the day, that was a little more light and airy and a community gathering spot,” Twedt-Ball said.

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Al Pierson, board president of the Northwest Neighbors Neighborhood Association, also said a coffee shop would be ideal for the Hosmer.

“There’s a lot of need in the neighborhood for a breakfast place, coffee shop (or) bakery,” Pierson said.

While Matthew 25 has bought and renovated homes before, the Hosmer Building is the first time it’s attempted a commercial space.

“This is just kind of another piece in the toolbox,” Twedt-Ball said. “If it doesn’t make sense for a for-profit business to come in and do this right away, then we want to be able to do this as a nonprofit.”

Twedt-Ball said he hopes a tenant is in the Hosmer by spring, but that will “be market-driven as much as anything.”

Renovation of the Hosmer would be just the latest project to come to in the Ellis Boulevard neighborhood. Plans for new housing, restaurants and a memorial called West Side Rising have emerged.

“There’s a number of projects going on down here that are going to create some attention and I think get people more interested in developing down here,” Pierson said.

In addition, Twedt-Ball and Pierson said the city’s plan to extend Ellis Boulevard through a MidAmerican Energy property to the north end of Sixth Street NW would put whatever business occupying the Hosmer at a well-trafficked corner.

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“We’re hoping that this is an area that is on the rebound following the 2008 flood, and there’s an ability to do some cool things there,” Twedt-Ball said.

While other Cedar Rapids neighborhoods, such as the New Bohemia District, have an emphasis on entertainment and night life, Pierson said development in the Ellis neighborhood is more “family-friendly” focused.

“We want rooftops, we want people back,” he said. “ ... We’ve made some inroads, but we want it back to being families.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8366; matthew.patane@thegazette.com

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