CR Planning Commission Approves Site Plan for Second Kohl's Location

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — The Cedar Rapids Planning Commission on Thursday gave unanimous approval for a preliminary site plan that could bring a second Kohl's department store to Cedar Rapids.

Kohl's, which operates an 81,000-square-foot store at 361 Collins Rd. NE, is expected to approve plans for a second 55,000-square-foot store at 31st Avenue and Wiley Boulevard SW within the next week. The store, which would open in March 2013, would anchor a shopping center with the potential for four additional tenants, according to developer Gerry Ambrose of Coralville.

"We agreed to move back the opening until March 2013 from October 2012 because I wasn't sure I could deliver a pad by April with the winters and springs that we've had in recent years," Ambrose said after Thursday's meeting at City Hall.

"I would like to start site work as yet this fall. I'm responsible for building the parking lot and having the pad ready for Kohl's to start construction."

Ambrose said the building will involve tilt-up precast concrete walls that should be erected fairly quickly. He said another national tenant that follows Kohl's has expressed interest in the site and did a flyover on Thursday.

Responding to neighbors concerns, Ambrose agreed to consider a low berm at the rear of the store to help block the site lines from a residential development west of the store. Allen Witt of Hall & Hall Engineers in Hiawatha said trees planned for the back of the store will block the view of neighbors once they reach several years of maturity.

Responding to a question about traffic flow at the intersection of 31st Avenue and Wiley Boulevard SW, Ambrose said the additional time before the Kohl's store opens will allow him to coordinate improvements planned by the City of Cedar Rapids.

"The city wants to widen Wiley Boulevard and add a median and turn lanes," he said. "That intersection is scheduled to get a traffic light, which should slow traffic on Wiley from both directions. People coming from Edgewood Road will know it's there and slow down, rather than speeding around the curve as they do today."

Kohl's has very strict design standards, according to Jim Horsch of Richard L. Bowen Associates Inc. of Cleveland, Ohio, an architectural firm that works with the retailer.

"All of their stores feature the same appearance and exterior materials," Horsch said. "Kohl's has earned silver LEED green design certification for all of its stores. The company has continued to expand in this down economy when many other retailers are struggling and shows no sign of pulling back."
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