Business

U-Haul opens store in former Westdale Younkers

Leasing initially with plans to purchase building

U-Haul has opened a store in the former Younkers department store building in Westdale to house some 850 storage units. (George C. Ford/Freelance)
U-Haul has opened a store in the former Younkers department store building in Westdale to house some 850 storage units. (George C. Ford/Freelance)

CEDAR RAPIDS — U-Haul has opened a branch store in the former Younkers department store at Westdale Town Center.

Robert Hampton, president of U-Haul of Eastern Iowa, said the Phoenix, Ariz., company initially is leasing the 100,000-square-foot building at 2800 Williams Blvd. SW with plans to purchase it.

“We are currently going through due diligence and all the checks and balances,” Hampton said. “We are hoping to close on the purchase within the next few days.”

The Westdale U-Haul branch eventually will offer truck and trailer rental as well as climate-controlled inside storage, Hampton said.

“We expect to have somewhere in the neighborhood of 850 storage rooms on two levels,” he said. “If everything goes as planned, I would hope that the remodeling will be done by the end of the summer.”

Todd Nelson, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Frew Development Group of Denver, Colo., declined to speak on the deal, and deferred comments to John Frew, Frew Development president, who was unavailable.

Frew Development bought the 71-acre shopping mall in 2013.

The Younkers building, constructed in 1979 as an anchor for the former Westdale Mall, has been vacant since the department store chain closed its stores in 2018 after the bankruptcy of its corporate parent Bon-Ton Inc. Frew Development took ownership of the two-story building.

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Cedar Rapids City Council approved a $21.75 million refinancing plan in September 2018, extending the loan to Frew Development through 2036. The city was required to approve the plan because it had guaranteed an $11.5 million loan and agreed to tax increment financing incentives worth at least $20 million in 2013.

U-Haul has been buying and repurposing large, empty former retail buildings for self-storage. Hampton said he has projects in progress in Davenport and Waukee, Iowa, as well as Moline and Rock Island, Ill.

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