Mount Mercy University is poised to expand to the south if hurdles involving rezoning and inspections are cleared.
Mount Mercy has an agreement to purchase part of the sprawling Terex complex that has been vacant since June 2010, contingent on several factors, according to a news release issued Tuesday. The first step toward the sale – a rezoning application – has been submitted to the Cedar Rapids City Council.
The Terex complex, 909 17th St. NE, consists of 51 total acres and 578,307 square feet of manufacturing space. The rezoning request does not apply to the entire property.
The application asks for about 21.7 acres east of 17th Street NE and south of I Avenue NE to be rezoned from industrial to office/service, which allows for uses by colleges and universities. Part of the Terex property near J Avenue NE will remain industrial for now.
Mount Mercy has not announced plans for the property.
“They’ve shown interest in it for some time, and it was just coming up to the right understanding and price, candidly,” Terex Vice President Tom Gelston said. “I think this is a good compromise where we will get the land into better and higher use than a vacant factory, for the most part.”
The sale is contingent on the rezoning, other inspections and approvals. In addition to the rezoning, site plans that haven’t been submitted yet will also need to be approved before any redevelopment can take place. Gelston said Terex representatives have had “casual” discussions with neighbors about the proposal.
“Both of us got comfortable that there would be reasons to be optimistic that this will see its way through,” Gelston said.
City planner Vern Zakostelecky said the first public hearing on the matter would be March 14 when the planning and zoning commission reviews the request. He said the City Council probably wouldn’t take up the request until April.
Tom Erger of Cabinet Studio, which is located adjacent to Terex, was among a group of area property owners who attempted to buy the property previously. He told The Gazette in October plans were dropped because Terex wanted the buyer to assume liability for any soil contamination on the property.
Gelston said there were no contamination issues in 2001 when Terex purchased the business from Raytheon Company.
“We had an environmental review at that time, and it was clean,” Gelston said. “Our operation subsequent to that really wasn’t heavy manufacturing, cutting and fabrication. We were more of an assembler, so I don’t foresee any reason to think that the outcome would be any different.”