CEDAR RAPIDS — With the buyouts of more than 1,000, flood-damaged, residential properties now complete, City Hall has turned its attention to flood-damaged commercial property.
And last night, the City Council voted to demolish 51 flood-damaged commercial properties that the city now has bought out, saving only one on the 52-property demolition list — the Affordable Appliance building at 1501 and 1507 C St. SW in Czech Village.
Baron Stark, who has invested in several Czech Village properties since the flood, wants to renovate the C Street SW property for two small businesses, Richard Luther, a Cedar Rapids development consultant working with Stark, told the City Council last night.
Joe O’Hern, the city’s flood recovery and reinvestment director, told the council that saving any of the buildings on the demolition list would be challenging because of the shape the buildings are in and federal rules related to the federal dollars used to buy the properties out. Most of this group of commercial properties are in the 100-year flood plain, though some commercial properties on later lists will not be, he said.
In total, the city is buying out about 140 commercial parcels, with perhaps 115 of them with structures on them, O’Hern said.
He said getting from interest to actual redevelopment of a commercial property could take three to seven months because of a need for an environmental review and abatement. Then a property will need to be put up for bid, so Stark isn’t guaranteed he will get to purchase the C Street SW property, O’Hern said.
City Council member Pat Shey said Stark had the finances and experience to bring the historic C Street SW property back to life and should be given the chance to do so. The council, on an 8-1 vote, agreed, with council member Chuck Wieneke voting no. He didn’t like the fact that the property is in the 100-year flood plain.
Of the 52 properties on the demolition list, “interested parties” had inquired at one time or another about redeveloping five others, though no one was at last night’s meeting to make a case for saving them. The five:
The A&W Restaurant, 1132 Ellis Blvd. NW; Log Cabin Lounge, 801 E Ave. NW; Air Filter Sales building, 123 14th Ave. SE; Salem United Methodist Church, 204 Second Ave. SW and 221 First Ave. SW; and Saddle & Leather Shop, 48 and 50 16th Ave. SW in Czech Village.
City staff rated the 52 commercial properties by a score of 1, 2 or 3, which represent minimal damage (four properties), moderate damage (24 properties) and significant damage (24 properties).
Of the six properties which had attracted some interest for redevelopment, the Log Cabin, Air Filter Sales building and the Saddle & Leather Shop were rated a 3, significant damage. The other three are rated a 2.
Also included on the demolition list of 52 commercial properties are the Jack Henry Salon, 1895 Ellis Blvd. NW; the Boys and Girls Club on Ellis Boulevard NW; and Brosh Chapel, 1020 and 1028 Third St. SE.
The City Council last night said it was important to develop a list of standards for developers interested in commercial properties on future demolition lists. One requirement will be the ability to redevelop.