CEDAR RAPIDS — Buoyed by recent success in their effort to save flood-affected commercial buildings from demolition, members of the Cedar Rapids Historic Preservation Commission have asked the city to delay demolition on another round of properties.
The commission pointed to 13 of 27 buildings on the city’s most recent property acquisition list as having historic significance.
All of the buildings are more than 50 years old and include landmarks such as the Smulekoff’s building, built in 1904 at 97 Third Ave. SE, and the 1910 Wells Fargo Bank, 101 Third Ave. SW.
Smulekoff’s spokeswoman Theresa Blair said the longtime downtown home furnishings company has no immediate plans to move.
“We do not wish to get people all excited about things that very likely will not happen for years and years, if it happens at all,” Blair wrote in an email.
She noted that Smulekoff’s intends to remain in its current location until the city’s plans for flood protection render the building unusable for business.
Smulekoff’s is among the businesses that were cleaned, renovated and reopened after the Flood of 2008, but won’t necessarily remain in place.
Another building on the city’s list is Joens Bros. Interiors and Maria’s Tea Room, 59 16th Ave. SW, which reopened in Czech Village shortly after the flood.
Sushil Nepal, staff liaison to the Historic Preservation Commission, said the voluntary acquisition program’s purpose is to remove buildings at risk of flooding again.
Demolition is one option to remove the properties from harm’s way, he said.
Nepal noted that under the program, buildings in the 100-year flood plain would need to be relocated if they are not razed.
Already, two the 13 buildings — at 208 12th Ave. SE and 1120 Second St. SE — have interested buyers, he said.
Joe O’Hern, the city’s flood recovery and reinvestment director, said the city was recently granted additional time to complete demolitions.
Previously, O’Hern said all of the buildings in the program needed to be demolished by Dec. 31 to receive Community Development Block Grant funding.
That has been extended into 2013, he said Friday. The city has yet to acquire about 200 commercial buildings under the program, O’Hern said.
O’Hern and Nepal both said the city is examining options for the Wells Fargo Bank, designed by architect Louis Sullivan. Neither could offer any details on what that might entail.
In September, the commission asked the city to delay demolition and seek developers for 10 buildings in the first round of commercial properties on the buy-out list.
Three groups expressed interest in seven of those properties, including buildings in the New Bohemia district in southeast Cedar Rapids and near the Wells Fargo Bank on Third Avenue SW.
Commission chairwoman Maura Pilcher said she hoped for similar results in the latest round.
She cited the former Martinek Hardware Store/Globe Grocery at 131 14th Ave. SE as one of the buildings that holds promise.
Most recently used as apartments, the 1890-built property was gutted after the flood. Pilcher said removing its siding would reveal the historic building’s former glory.
Redeveloping the buildings keeps them on the tax rolls and retains the city’s historic character, she said.
These are the buildings the Historic Preservation Commission asked to save from demolition:
- Smulekoff’s, 97 Third Ave. SE
- Wells Fargo Bank, 101 Third Ave. SW
- Former Martinek Hardware/Globe Grocery, -131 14th Ave. SE
- Joens Bros. Interiors, 59 16th Ave. SW
- Cedar Rapids Merchandising, 208 12th Ave SE
- Apartments, 429 Seventh Ave. SW
- Apartments, 500 Seventh Ave. SW
- Sled Shed, 219 Third Ave. SW
- Swiss Valley Farms, 133 F Ave. NW
- Scherrman Leasing, 207 Third Ave. SW
- Iltens, 106 Second Ave. SW
- Cedar Rapids Merchandising/beauty and barber shop, 1120 Second St. SE
- Mautz Paint, 118 First St. NW