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Expansion in All Directions

Updated: Thursday, June 26 2014, 10:21 PM CDT
CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) – Six years to the month after the Cedar River flooded much of downtown Cedar Rapids, the city is looking to add yet another building in one of the affected areas. Cedar Rapids is calling for proposals to develop the 3.5 acre open lot on 12th street behind the NewBo City Market.

It’s a piece of the New Bohemia District that people say gets forgotten because it’s hidden behind the NewBo City Market. But the impact it could have on already thriving part of the city is something that business owners say you won’t be able to miss.

Bill Rieckhoff at Great American Popcorn says what’s already open near his shop is good.

"You have businesses that have successfully passed the 3 year mark,” said Rieckhoff.

But what’s coming might be better.

The process for bids started when a local developer showed interest in what is now just mostly weeds.

"In this case we were really looking for interest on the whole site,” said Cedar Rapids Community Development Assistant Director, Jennifer Pratt. ”We were looking for that master plan."

Pratt says unlike many of the open spots around NewBo, this one is big. It’s huge. And could support many businesses while also creating more spots for people to gather outside.

From the dandelions, community leaders say they want to see something that creates a “24/7 population” in the neighborhood, people downtown after business hours.

"We do a ton of business between 8 and 9 o’clock at night, which were hours that the City Market was not open,” said Rieckhoff.

Much of that comes from people who already live in the area. The city is encouraging market-rate apartments to be part of the plan, which would only increase business done in what’s now “after-hours.”

Eric Engelmann is the President and C.E.O. of Geonetric, whose new building will be polished off in the next month just across the street. He says this kind of developing could shatter the present-day boundaries of New Bohemia.

"Right now we might be on the fringe of it, but in 10-years we might be right in the middle of it,” said Engelmann. “I think as it builds out and grows, this whole area will be full of people creating things, and we wanted to be right in the middle of that."

Anyone who wants to submit a proposal can learn more at the information session Friday, June 27 at 4 p.m at City Hall.
Expansion in All Directions

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