Plan to Bring A&W Back to Ellis Boulevard Moving Forward
By Rick Smith, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — A local developer’s year-old plans are moving ahead to return the flood-damaged A & W Family Restaurant in the heart of a piece of Ellis Boulevard NW that the neighborhood hopes to see become a thriving commercial corridor.
Joe O’Hern, the city’s flood recovery and reinvestment director, this week said that the state of Iowa has approved a request to allow the A & W to be redeveloped even though it was purchased with federal buyout money and part of it sits in the 100-year flood plain.
O’Hern said he expected the project to be in front of the City Council as soon as Tuesday so the council can approve aspects of the property sale before the renovation begins.
Earlier this year, the council agreed to a development agreement with developer Baron Stark of Stark Real Estate Holdings Inc. who wants to bring the A & W at 1132 Ellis Blvd. NW back to life.
Stark’s interest succeeded in pulling the building off the city’s buyout demolition list.
He has said he intends to restore the restaurant to its historic, carhop past and to add a new section to the structure so customers can eat inside or on an outdoor patio.
Richard Luther, a Cedar Rapids development consultant with Creative Development Solutions, has worked with Stark on the project. Stark is ready to finalize the property acquisition and get to work with the hope of opening in the spring, Luther said this week.
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