State awards Cedar Rapids $9 Million of $39.5 million requested for downtown development

Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 7:09 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Several projects long in the works for downtown Cedar Rapids just got a $9 million boost thanks to the state. The Iowa Economic Development Authority Board approved the money on Friday morning. The city says the money will help bring the projects to fruition sooner.

“The $9 Million the state has awarded us will be a very significant asset for us to be able to get these projects going,” said Jasmine Almoayyed, Economic Development Manager for the City of Cedar Rapids.

Of the six cities awarded money on Friday, Cedar Rapids did receive the least amount.

Des Moines was awarded $23.5 million towards their proposal.

Almoayyed said the state took into account how much tax revenue the proposed projects would bring back. Des Moines’ proposal included the Pro Iowa soccer stadium and is expected to bring in nearly $140 million over 20 years.

“When you look at the projection for what they will be generating over that 20 year period in sales tax it’s significantly higher than what our three projects we put forward would be generating for sales tax,” Almoayyed explained.

“Maybe on this one we didn’t get as much but on other ones we’ve exceeded expectations,” said Ron Corbett, the Vice President of Economic Development with The Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance.

Corbett said the city continues to receive significant support from the state when it comes to funding for flood control.

“I mean, they get $280 some million dollars over a 20 year period. You know, no other community has received that level of funding for flood protection like Cedar Rapids has from the state,” Corbett explained.

The city’s proposal that was awarded the $9 million mentioned six projects.

Some of those included a high rise near the Paramount Theater with a grocery store that would be 25 stories, surpassing the Alliant Tower as the tallest building in downtown Cedar Rapids. It also included the Heart of America Hotel which will actually add two hotels at the old Guaranty Bank location. In addition, the proposal included developing the land at 1st and 1st on the west side of the river, which was originally where the city wanted to put a casino.

“That 1st and 1st property, I mean people drive by that every day and it’s grass. And everybody always says, what’s going to go there? What’s going to go there,” Corbett said.

Much anticipated plans for the space now include a Big Grove Brewery, entertainment options and more housing.

Overall the proposal included several exciting projects for the city with timelines that may have just been bumped up, just not as much as hoped.

The city of Ames was awarded $10 million, Fort Dodge was awarded $17 million, The Merle Hay Reinvestment District was awarded $26.5 million and the Newton Legacy Reinvestment District was awarded $14 million.

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