Cargill Plant Has Sights on 10 City Buyout Lots

By Rick Smith, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Ten now-city-owned lots in what had been The Flats section of the city next to the Cargill plant at 1710 16th St. SE are being positioned for Cargill's possible use and eventual purchase.

The City Council's Development Committee this week approved and sent to the full council a recommendation that the city proceed with a competitive proposal to see if Cargill or others are interested in the 10 lots.

They sit in what had been the section of modest homes known as The Flats that by and large was destroyed by the flood of 2008. Over the years, Cargill has purchased many homes in the neighborhood as the company extended the footprint of its plant there to west. After the flood, Cargill bought up additional properties there while others were purchased through the city's buyout program.

Jennifer Pratt, a planner in the city's Community Development Department, told the council committee this week that Cargill contacted the city in August about buying the 10 city lots west of the Cargill plant. The properties, Pratt noted, were purchased with buyout funds and sit in the 100-year flood plain so she said the city is not permitted to transfer title to the properties. A title transfer is permitted if, for instance, the city builds a flood-protection system that removes the properties from the 100-year flood plain or if there is a plan approved by the state for a parking lot on the property, Pratt said.

The committee moved to seek development proposals for those interested in maintaining the 10 lots in the near-term and buying them once the current deed restriction is removed.

Money for any purchase goes back to the federal government since its funds were used to buy out the flood-damaged properties, Pratt noted.

She added that any future improvements that Cargill may want to make to the property would require a change of zoning, which would prompt notice and discussion with neighbors.

Council member Monica Vernon said she'd like to see a boundary line established beyond which Cargill would not go to the west toward the New Bohemia district.

The addresses of the 10 lots in question are: 908, 903 and 915 16th Ave. SE; 1616 Ninth St. SE; 900, 906, 916, 919 and 923 17th Ave. SE; and 929 Hull Ave. SE.
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