120-Year-Old Cedar Rapids Business Opens New Showroom

By George Ford, Reporter

Caption: Ilten's office and sales manager Joanne Alden of Center Point, left, shows new stoves to Shirley and Chuck Hollan of Cedar Raipds at the store in Southwest Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, May 19, 2009. The showroom and warehouse took on eight feet of water in the summer 2008 flood, and operations were moved to shop while the showroom was gutted and remodeled. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

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By Ellen Kurt

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — After 120 years, many of them near downtown Cedar Rapids, Ilten's has moved to a new showroom constructed adjacent to its longtime shop in southwest Cedar Rapids.

The family-owned appliance, heating and air conditioning dealer moved within the last two weeks to 919 14th Ave. SW. Ilten's had previously been located at 106 Second Ave. SW, just west of downtown.

John Ilten, president of Ilten's, on Wednesday said the company was "98 percent" moved into the new building, which is "a little bit less" in size than the showroom on Second Avenue SW. The building, which also had basement storage, was flooded with 8 and a half feet of water in June 2008 when the Cedar River crested at a record 31.1 feet.

The Ilten showroom, offices and an adjacent warehouse, all owned by Ilten Brothers, were restored after the flood with the showroom reopening in May 2009. Ilten's operated for a time from its shop on 14th Avenue SW until repairs were completed at the Second Avenue SW building.

At the time, John Ilten said the company lost everything in the showroom as well as its computers and a computer-aided design system. The showroom, office and warehouse loss was estimated at about $700,000.

An office and apartment building at 100 First St. SW owned by Ilten Ventures sustained an $800,000 loss. The city has acquired all of the properties.

John Ilten said the new location consolidates all of the company's operations.

"We're doing the same operation in one space, which makes it a little nicer," he said.

The Cedar Rapids City Council's Flood Recovery Committee has recommended that the office building and apartment building at 100 First St. SW formerly owned by Ilten Ventures be demolished along with two other commercial properties to make way for redevelopment.

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