Health

VA to relocate Cedar Rapids clinic to Westdale in 2020

Site above Ross Dress for Less will offer more space

An architect’s rendering shows apartment, office and retail under construction at Westdale Town Center. Two four-story, 57,000-square-foot buildings will offer one- and two-bedroom market rate apartments. Completion is planned for December 2019. (Fusion Architects)
An architect’s rendering shows apartment, office and retail under construction at Westdale Town Center. Two four-story, 57,000-square-foot buildings will offer one- and two-bedroom market rate apartments. Completion is planned for December 2019. (Fusion Architects)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs plans to relocate an outpatient clinic in Cedar Rapids to a much larger space in early 2020.

The Iowa City VA Health Care System outpatient clinic will move from 2230 Wiley Blvd. SW to 30,000 square feet of leased space on the top floor of the former Von Maur department store at 3500 Dalton Way SW in Westdale Town Center.

Ross Dress For Less and Shoe Dept. Encore have leased the first floor of the building.

The Wiley Boulevard building no longer will serve as a VA outpatient clinic once the move is completed.

The new VA clinic will be more than twice the size of the current 9,976-square-foot clinic, which opened in 1997. The additional space will allow the VA to improve physical therapy facilities and increase mental health services, according to a VA news release.

Other new programs and services will include radiology, home-based primary care, telehealth and podiatry, and added space for primary care appointments.

Audiology services also will expand, including access to the Iowa City VA mobile audiology clinic.

John Frew, president of Frew Development Group, said his company, which is redeveloping the former Westdale Mall, has been working on the lease with the Iowa City VA Health Care System for about a year.

“We were one of the final four locations that the VA was considering,” Frew said. “... The signed lease arrived in our office Monday morning.”

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Frew said the planned clinic location is across Westdale Parkway SW from the Tru by Hilton hotel, which he believes may have been a factor in favor of Frew Development Group’s proposal.

“This will really help cement the Williams Boulevard side of Westdale,” he said. “We will still have 20,000 square feet of space at the back of that floor, which we expect to lease for doctor’s offices or medical-related uses.”

Compass Commercial Services of Hiawatha began construction on Monday of the first of two four-story, 57,000-square-foot apartment, office and retail buildings west of the Tru by Hilton.

“The buildings will be as tall as the hotel, but longer,” Frew said. “Our office will be on the first floor along with a restaurant serving breakfast and lunch. We have a signed letter of intent that we will now convert into a lease with a national chain that is not in Cedar Rapids at the present time, but will have five locations in the state.

“We also have a letter of intent with another tenant for the first floor that we cannot disclose until we have a signed lease.”

Frew said the second through fourth floors of the each building will have six one-bedroom apartments with 800 square feet and 27 two-bedroom apartments with 1,130-square feet.

“The apartments will be market rate — no subsidized units — and I think will fit the market very well,” Frew said. “Fusion has designed both buildings, which will be very colorful like the hotel. It will look very different from any other residential housing going up in Cedar Rapids.”

Frew said completion of the first building is planned for December 2019, but he hopes to have the commercial portion on the first floors open in November for holiday shopping.

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The Cedar Rapids City Council in September approved a $21.75 million refinancing plan, extending a loan through 2036 with NBH Bank of Colorado.

Frew said the refinancing frees up cash that will allow him to continue rebuilding.

“If we hadn’t been able to refinance, we would have had to hand them the keys and walked away,” he said. “It would have killed us and broken our hearts, but the debt had such a death grip on us.

“We were absolutely frozen. Things in the retail world have changed dramatically over the last five years.

“We are planning additional housing between the former Von Maur and Younkers building.”

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