CEDAR RAPIDS – The Witwer Senior Center, displaced by floodwaters nearly five years ago from its longtime downtown Cedar Rapids location, is exploring the option of opening a new center in Czech Village.
An architect with OPN Architects, Inc., of Cedar Rapids is drawing up plans and calculating renovation costs for the former Novak Heating & Air Conditioning building on 16th Avenue SW, Myrt Bowers told 20 people at the AARP Chapter No. 5352 meeting Tuesday afternoon. Bowers is Associate Executive Director, Witwer Center Healthy Lifestyle Programs, Aging Services Inc.
“We need to take a good look at this,” Bowers said. “Once the drawings are back we’ll have a community forum so you can look at it.”
The Novak Heating & Air Conditioning building was purchased by the city with Community Development Block Grant funds. The company is now located in Hiawatha.
While the 8,000-square foot building on two levels would not be as large as the 12,000 square feet of space in the old senior center, Bowers said, it would be much greater than the current 2,500 square feet of shared space in the Ecumenical Center and Green Square Meals site at 605 Second Ave. SE.
Despite smaller space and holding some programs in other locations, the Witwer Senior Center served 1,900 un-duplicated participants last year, Bowers said.
Renovation of the Novak building would include an elevator and space for the senior center’s programs which range from multipurpose education to wellness and exercise, music and dance, a technology learning lab, café, lounge and office space.
“We think this site would be beautiful,” Bowers said, pointing out its proximity to the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and the Cedar River. It also would have parking and be on a bus line, two requirements seniors say are necessary.