When attending events on the west side of the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids, visitors encounter a major problem that the city will be addressing, with help from a grant through the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA). It's one of two projects the money will assist with.

It was more than a year ago that the IEDA gave provisional funding to the City of Cedar Rapids, pending final approval. Last Friday, the city got the final go-ahead from the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

The IEDA release states, "The board approved the maximum benefit amount of $9 million for the Cedar Rapids Central Reinvestment District submitted by the City of Cedar Rapids. The mixed-use project includes housing, entertainment, retail and hotel developments, and also incorporates downtown flood control and Cedar River recreation for tourism opportunities. The plan proposes a capital investment of $160.8 million."

The project the release is talking about is of course the one being built at the corner of 1st Avenue and 1st Street West in Cedar Rapids. The huge development, which broke ground in May, will transform a long-vacant area near the Cedar River that was once earmarked for a casino. *You can see all the green space, where construction has begun, in the lower right portion of the image below.

Google Earth
Google Earth

Cedar Rapids will use two-thirds of the grant, or $6 million, to construct a new parking ramp as part of the 1st and 1st West development. Cedar Rapids has six parking ramps on the east side of the river downtown, but this will be the first on the west side. Anyone who has been to an event at the McGrath Amphitheatre knows how beneficial this will be to the area, especially with the people that 1st and 1st West will eventually bring to that part of Cedar Rapids.

This spring, we told you the west-side parking ramp would likely be built in about four years. That's the estimated time it will take for the developers to reach a pre-arranged level of spending on the project, which is expected to take eight years to complete.

According to the Corridor Business Journal, Cedar Rapids will use the other $3 million for development along 8th Avenue SW. That future project would include festival grounds along with a residential and business development. In addition, the city would like to add a Cedar River channel that bypasses the dam. It would allow for whitewater rafting and kayaking. It's a project that's been in discussion for more than two years. *Construction to replace the 8th Avenue Bridge over the Cedar River in downtown Cedar Rapids is still at least two years away.

Development by 1st and 1st, LLC

The Cedar Rapids City Council advanced the project on Tuesday, April 12. Below are renderings of the $81.5 million development from the City Council presentation as well as renderings from the fall of 2021. Construction started in May of 2022 and be completed in three phases over approximately eight years.
*The first 5 images are from the April 2021 City Council presentation. The others are from September of 2021 and are noted in the title of each photo.
*By the time construction started in May of 2022, the total price tag had risen to more than $100 million.

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