CEDAR RAPIDS — A new set of condos underway in Time Check is a sign of the comeback of the northwest Cedar Rapids neighborhood a decade after historic flooding, city leaders say.
Developers Jim Happel and Steve Emerson officially broke ground June 28 on Ellis Landings Condominiums. Sitting at 1871 Ellis Blvd. NW, the 27-unit building is directly adjacent to the Cedar River, which rose up in the flood of 2008 and damaged much of the neighborhood.
“Twenty-seven units. That’s 27 new families that will be a part of the Time Check neighborhood. It sends that signal: new blood, new people,” said City Council member Scott Olson.
The condo building will include a 16-foot flood wall as part of its structure, marking the northern most part of new flood protections scheduled to be built on that side of the river. A parking garage will go underneath, raising the residences even higher from the river.
“To me, this project is a great symbol of tomorrow, of the future of Cedar Rapids, coming back better and stronger than before,” City Manager Jeff Pomeranz said at the groundbreaking.
For council member Ann Poe, the project is personal. Ellis Landings will be built adjacent to the site of her former family home, which she said her family sold to the city after owning it for 80 years.
“My mom always said ‘You know, Annie, if we cut you, you’d bleed river water,’” Poe told the groundbreaking’s attendees.
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In an interview, Poe called the development “bittersweet” but said she hopes it helps attract new people to the Time Check neighborhood.
“On one hand, I miss my family home, and the years (spent there) — we had weddings there, we had birthday parties there, all of my kids grew up there. There was so much history in that piece of property,” she said. “Maybe now it’s time to create some other history for other people who will have the opportunity to have what I had growing up all those years, and be able to embrace the river and enjoy the river.”
Happel said he asked the city to give Ellis Landings the address of 1871 Ellis Blvd. NW to honor Poe’s family.
“Ann Poe, this is her home, this is where she grew up. That’s why we made it her address. There’s a bunch of lots here, but I asked the city to make it 1871,” he said.
He also said about half of the 27 condo units are already spoken for.
Down the street, Joe Ahmann’s Depot Development has proposed building six, two-story duplexes in the 1600 block of Ellis. The city’s planning committee considered a rezoning request for that project June 28. The Cedar Rapids City Council already has supported a request for a 10-year, 100 percent tax break on the property’s new value.
“People have to feel comfortable living by the river. We shouldn’t be afraid of it. It rises and it falls, but we should never fear it and we should find ways of embracing it. This is an opportunity for people to embrace it,” Poe said.
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