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Groundbreaking for 1st and 1st West project

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 10:15 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A groundbreaking event Wednesday marked the official start of the 1st and 1st West project in Cedar Rapids.

The $100 million projects will include a hotel, housing, Pickle Palace Pickleball Court and restaurant, and a Big Grove Brewing. That would all be built on 8-acres of land west of the Cedar River near the downtown.

“With the interstate right there, this is about as visible of a project you can have,” said Joe Ahmann, President of Ahmann Companies.

Ahmann is the lead developer and has wanted to build a project like this for years. He said the original idea of building a casino here kept him from doing so, but since that failed, this land would no longer be vacant in the near future.

“This is a legacy project for myself and definitely my team,” he said. “When we get done with this project done, it is something that will be here for a long time. We’re going to have to do this right.”

Only one business was still on this land, and its owner is willing to move so 1st, and 1st West could move forward.

“The shop has been open since 1963,” said Steve Novak, owner of Novak Automotive.

Steve said he wasn’t ready to retire yet, but selling his business makes sense, and his wife agrees.

“The developers knew they were guaranteed, and they came to me with a proposal,” said Novak. “Everything has hashed out. It’s going to be hard to leave, but we’ll get around it.”

Novak plans to work part-time at a friend’s shop once he closes his down. While he’s leaving all he knows in his downtown shop, he said this project was something to celebrate.

“When the park gets set up we’re going to have music, and with Big Grove and all the other breweries we can host brew fests,” said Ahmann. “This is an idea we planned to look like Keystone Colorado.”

The flood protection portion of the project will begin next year.

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