New condo development provides both housing and city flood protection

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A new development is starting to take shape on Cedar Rapids' west side.

A flood wall being built as part of a new condominium development along Ellis Boulevard NW in Cedar Rapids on June 26, 2019 (Jackie Kennon/KCRG)

While it might not look much different than any other condo buildings, the new housing center is actually a big part of the city's flood protection plan.

The developer wanted to build housing along the water, and the city was in search of additional flood protection measures. Both said they are benefitting from this project.

“What you see is a new condo building, you don't see a flood wall,” Rob Davis, flood control program manager for the city of Cedar Rapids, said.

The 27-condo project on 1871 Ellis Boulevard NW has been on developer Jim Happel’s to-do list for nearly 20 years.

“It's the only place on the water in Cedar Rapids that you can build,” Happel said.

Happel worked with the city to fund a portion of the development.

“It's kind of a win-win situation," Davis said. "The development moves along, and we get a flood control component built by a private developer built to all the standards we need. And so when we need it, we'll hook right into it."

Ellis Landings received $2 million dollars in reimbursements from the city.

“The city contributed that portion, which would have been an earthen levy," Davis said. "We costed out the estimation of a levy, and then once they finished the wall, then they get that contribution back from the city."

Davis explained that Happel is paying a little extra for the enhanced flood measure costs. It is a small factor to see his dream building finally brought to life.

“It sets a tone for the whole northwest side that flooded out,” Happel said.

Davis said he is excited to see the community’s involvement in turning flood protection measures.

“It's fantastic how this is coming into the community with these community developments, and it’s really a community enhancement much more than just flood control,” Davis said.

People can learn more about the city’s flood prevention initiatives at an open house on Thursday, June 25 from 4:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. at the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance building on 501 1st Street Southeast.