Today is the day that will begin the transformation of an entire Cedar Rapids city block.

A groundbreaking and demolition ceremony is happening at the corner of 4th Avenue and 5th Street southeast at 2 p.m. today. It's the beginning of what will eventually be a mixed-income housing development known as Annex on the Square (photos below), that will replace what's long been known in the city of Cedar Rapids as the Banjo Block.

According to a media release from the developer, TWG of Indianapolis, Indiana, "Annex on the Square will reserve 202 units for those residents earning up to 60% of the area median income (AMI), with 22 units available at market-rate. TWG will serve as the owner and general contractor of the property. Floor plans include studio, one- and two-bedroom apartment options."

The $49 million property will include a pool, fitness room, business center, gated garage, and a top floor deck that overlooks Green Square. It will also include over 1,200 square feet of retail space. The Studio Architecture says the entire project will have approximately 311,500 gross square feet.

Construction will begin after today's groundbreaking and demolition ceremony with construction expected to be completed in January of 2024.

The block where Annex on the Square will be located has been known as the Banjo Block because of Banjo Equipment Company, a business that was located there from 1933 until just a few months ago. The company, which has been in business since 1918, was known as Refrigeration Equipment Company when it moved into 509 4th Avenue SE in 1933. Banjo Equipment Company is now located at 705 16th Ave. S.E. in Cedar Rapids, in an 1870s building that's the only one remaining from the Sinclair meatpacking factory.

Annex on the Square

What's long been known as the Banjo Block in downtown Cedar Rapids is being demolished in favor of a mixed-use property. The $49 million development will cover the entire block across from the Cedar Rapids Public Library at the corner of 4th Avenue and 5th Street SE.

Proposed Development by 1st and 1st, LLC

The Cedar Rapids City Council advanced the project in September, estimated at $71 million. Construction at the site on the west side, close to the Cedar River downtown, is tentatively scheduled to happen in three phases. The first to begin in 2022 with the construction on the project not wrapping up until 2030.

ConnectCR Pedestrian Bridge

The bridge, which will connect NewBo and Czech Village will be called the Alliant Energy LightLine. Construction should begin in 2023, with bridge completion the following year. *Alliant Energy donated $1 million to the project.

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