HIAWATHA — A Cedar Rapids developer is planning a new “power retail center” called Peck’s Landing on the site where Peck’s Green Thumb and Garden Shop has operated for decades.
Joe Ahmann, owner of Ahmann Companies, has a purchase agreement for 20.8 acres on Blairs Ferry Road NE near the border of Cedar Rapids and Hiawatha. Peck’s Landing would initially include four buildings for retail on adjoining properties at 3950, 3980 and 3990 Blairs Ferry Road and additional office and residential construction possibly in the future, said Craig Byers, the listing agent for the project.
“You will see a continuation of high-end retail that would service the immediate area with two high schools there and growing rooftops and single-family homes,” Byers said. “The reason Peck’s is such an attractive site is it sits smack in the middle of a rapidly growing area of Cedar Rapids and a rapidly growing area of Hiawatha.”
The sale and plans are contingent on procedural approvals, including rezoning the land from agricultural to highway commercial district, platting and mitigating traffic concerns in the busy area. The Hiawatha City Council unanimously gave a first vote of approval for rezoning and approved the preliminary plat during a meeting Tuesday evening.
Additional votes are required to finalize the approval.
Future of Peck’s
Owners of Peck’s, which has been in business since 1956, plan to continue operations at the current location through the growing season, and operations will continue in the future, although the details of when and where have not been announced. The garden center and two homes on the site would be removed as part of Peck’s Landing, according to meeting documents.
Three generations of the Peckosh family have operated the nursery over the past 61 years.
“Over the years, many novice gardeners developed their green thumbs with the help, encouragement and advice offered by Peck’s expert staff,” according to a statement released by Pivot Real Estate, which is a division of Ahmann Companies. “Peck’s has been honored to serve the Cedar Rapids area, surrounding communities and Eastern Iowa for 61 years with quality plants, flowers and landscaping services.”
Shirley Peckosh, one of the owners of Peck’s and a spokeswoman for the company, declined to comment.
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Mary Tiedemann, 65, who lives nearby, said she shopped at Peck’s and called it a “beautiful shop,” but said redevelopment makes sense given how the city has grown up around Peck’s and that general area. She said the “loyal following” will support Peck’s wherever they relocate.
“The land is obviously worth quite a bit, and it makes sense the way the city has grown,” Tiedemann said. “The only concern is what they are proposing for traffic. The traffic on Blairs Ferry is very very busy.”
Hiawatha staff are supportive of the project. The land is seen as a “prime location” for highway business and consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan, Patrick Parsley, Hiawatha community development direct stated in a memo. The area surrounding Peck’s is heavily developed with retail, restaurants, a gas station, banks and other commerce, so the Peck’s Landing development would be a good fit, according to Hiawatha staff.
Another aspect of Peck’s Landing is the extension of Edgewood Road NE north. At this point the road would extend enough to provide an entrance to the development, but plans have long called for Edgewood to extend through Hiawatha as a main arterial.
That remains the case, but the timeline is a ways off, Hiawatha Mayor Bill Bennett said.
“Right now, the extension is just to get into their first entrance, but we’ve acquired land and (there’s) a plan to extend Edgewood first to Tower Terrace and eventually to County Home Road. If it happens in 10 years that would be great, but probably more likely 10 to 15 years.”
Intersection improvements at Blairs Ferry and the eventual extension of Edgewood Road NE, as well as 18th Street are part of the Peck’s project and will require coordination between officials in Hiawatha and Cedar Rapids.
The Peck’s site plan must reserve space for future expansion of Edgewood Road NE and 18th Street, Hiawatha City Engineer John Bender wrote in a memo to the city’s planning and zoning commission. No money is yet allocated for those road expansion projects at this time, he added.
Hiawatha City Administrator Kim Downs said any request for tax incentives would be addressed later in the regulatory process.
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The development marks the continued transformation of this former outskirts area of Cedar Rapids from agricultural land to a bustling residential and commercial node. The connection of Highway 100 from Collins Road NE to Highway 30 promises more development potential. A traffic study predicts 50,000 vehicles a day in the area by 2040, Bender stated.
Pending regulatory approvals and completion of the sale, Ahmann Companies plans to begin construction this fall with build out completed within two years, Byers said. Retail would go on 10 acres of the land facing Blairs Ferry Road NE, and additional development could be pursued after the initial phase, Byers said.
The proposed sale price has not been disclosed, but the property is assessed at $1.5 million, according to the Linn County Assessor’s Office. Also not disclosed is how much developers plan to invest to build Peck’s Landing.
The development is across the street from another major Ahmann project called The Fountains, which is southeast of the Blairs Ferry and Edgewood roads NE intersection. The $34 million Fountains has four buildings finished and mostly filled, and a fifth building under construction out of a planned six buildings on 19 acres.
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