CEDAR RAPIDS — A developer with a sizable footprint on Edgewood Road NE near the Highway 100 extension is planning a $50 million-plus, 55-acre commercial-retail complex in the same area.
Joe Ahmann, president of Ahmann Co., said a new-to-the-area national retailer, which hasn’t been publicly named, is under contract for a 200,000-square-foot space and would fill about half of Edgewood Town Center. The complex also would have a number of smaller retailers, offices and possibly housing built out over the next five to 10 years.
“This is one of the larger mixed-use single development projects that has been brought forward to the city in quite some time,” Ahmann said in seeking Cedar Rapids City Council support Tuesday. “We ask for your continued support and we will bring another quality project as we’ve done in the past.”
Council members backed Ahmann’s New Buffalo Land Co. project by voting in favor of the first reading of a rezoning from agricultural to commercial use and supported a 10-year, 50 percent tax break worth $5.6 million. During this period, $7.5 million in taxes still would be collected for public use. The zoning approval and financial terms would be finalized later.
The property is made up of partially wooded land that has been undeveloped and was until recently owned by Transamerica. The plan includes devoting space to stormwater detention because part of the grounds are wetlands.
The site is in a prime location due to the Highway 100 extension, which is near completion. The new highway connects from Edgewood to Highway 30 and opens a new corridor for development in Cedar Rapids.
The Fountains, which is nearing completion, has a heavier mix of office space as well as some retail and restaurants than the Edgewood Town Center project would have. Peck’s Landing, which is under construction, is also mixed use.
Caleb Mason, economic development analyst for the city, said similar design standards as the Fountains would be used for the Edgewood Town Center.
The project is expected to support at least 100 jobs, but no benchmark exists for wages under the city’s large-site master plan economic development program.
“I have a hard time getting excited about economic development if it isn’t high-quality jobs that have benefits we need,” council member Ashley Vanorny said. “With low unemployment, the last thing we need is more minimum- wage jobs to offer Cedar Rapidians.”
In other council action Tuesday:
• An ordinance intended to crack down on illegal massage businesses was given final approval.
The ordinance requires any person or business offering massage services to also be licensed through the city as well as the state. It gives the city the right to placard any massage businesses engaging in illegal activity or operating without the licensing. A $60 fee, which would include three background checks, with additional background checks costing $10 each were also set.
• A nearly three-year effort to overhaul the city’s zoning code gained a first approval. The effort called “ReZone Cedar Rapids” was intended to modernize the zoning code to make compliance easier for developers and to allow types of land uses desired by property owners.
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