History of Sinclair Meat Packing Plant Could Be Ending Soon

By Justin Foss, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS - The Sinclair Site in Downtown Cedar Rapids is garnering attention again from the fire department, and city staff.

Back at the end of July, a massive fire damaged the former Farmstead Foods property and kept firefighters busy for days.

Today, during a special tour of the site, our crew found material still smoldering, which caused the fire department to return and do more work.

The site dates back to 1872, some of the buildings date back to 1919. But the death of the old meat packing plant could finally come in 2010.

"It's a very technical demolition and it'll take time and be very expensive and we need funding in place before we start that. The city can't afford the bill to demo this property," said Cedar Rapids Flood Director Greg Eyerly.

And it's a big bill. One option takes a year and costs about $20 million. The other could cost $100 million and take three years.

Both options are eligible for FEMA funding, but FEMA has yet to announce it's decision. Eyerly said he expects to hear from FEMA by this Spring.

"The more complicated way, is to use the old ball and chain way, and that's to knock down, but you have to treat every piece, every brick as hazardous," said Eyerly.

The easy way is to literally lift the buildings so you can walk through and pull out asbestos and hazardous material from underneath and throughout the floors.

But, time, water and a fire have a big say in which method they use.

The fire took away any shortcuts for one major building. The ceilings are falling and there's no way people can walk though and pull out the hazardous material. Eyerly said that building will most likely have to be demolished the expensive and slow way.

However, Eyerly said engineers will know which option is best by as soon as December. But a final decision won't be made until FEMA makes it ruling, said Eyerly.

Historians have said they want to keep the iconic smokestack, but that remains in doubt.

Our lens showed bricks crushed, cracked and missing, and it appears the smokestack is slightly leaning to one side.

Also, Eyerly said he expects to hear any day on a dollar amount the city will get from insurance for the fire that happened this year.

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