Cedar Rapids design committee OKs new NewBo building

Current design features four-story, mixed-use space

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August 19, 2014 | 12:01 am

CEDAR RAPIDS — The city’s Design Review Technical Advisory Committee for building projects in New Bohemia on Monday approved the new, scaled-down design of the New Bohemia Station project, a more ambitious version of which was proposed more than a year ago for the site of the former Brosh Chapel, 1020 and 1028 Third St. SE.

Scott Byers, a Realtor and developer, is a new investor in the project, as is his son, Craig, who also is a Realtor and developer.

Craig Byers told the committee that the current design for the project features a four-story, 23,000-square-foot building that will be built up about three feet to take its first floor out of the 100-year flood plain.

The first floor of the building will house a restaurant or retail shops, the second floor will be for offices and the top two floors will have a total of 14 market-rate apartments. A major anchor tenant has committed to moving into and taking up most of the second floor of the new building, Craig Byers said.

He said the project had gotten “significantly smaller” from an earlier version, in part, so the site can provide parking for residents, he said.

He said the exterior of the building will feature brick and stone, but will be predominately brick. The windows facing Third Street SE and 11th Avenue SE will be “grandiose,” he said.

Scott Byers said the earlier version of the New Bohemia Station project had consisted of five floors, and there is a chance the new version may add a third floor of apartments, he said.

However, Craig Byers said adding a fifth floor will require the building to have a steel construction frame rather than a wood frame, and the added cost could keep the project at four floors, he said.

Committee member Monica Davis said the building had “great proportion the way it is” as a four-story one.

Committee member Ruth Fox, a landscape architect, said the 1000 block of Third Street SE in New Bohemia needed the building to balance other buildings on the street.

Fox recommended that the first-floor windows in the building be clear glass so people outside can see the activity inside the building. Fox also said she’d like to see a green roof on the building one day.

The developers provided rough renderings of the two most visible sides of the building, but the committee members said they wanted to see what the two other sides of the building will look like.

Scott Byers identified himself to the committee as the majority investor in the New Bohemia Station project with son Craig and Tyler Oswood as minority investors. Kory and Kevin Nanke, both part of the original investor group, remain with the project.

Local developer Allen Lerch, a member of the initial New Bohemia Station LLC investor group, on Monday said “ideally” he would like to see the earlier version of the project built. But he said “if that’s not workable,” then “I would support getting another project moving forward.”

He said he still has yet to personally see the new plans.

The initial New Bohemia Station plan included a mix of extended-stay hotel rooms, an event space, and a basement theater along with apartments and retail/office space. The project was delayed for a time because of a required environmental assessment of the site, which complicated getting the project built, Lerch said.

“I would prefer to do my project as it was awarded to our group. But I want to make sure the community is happy and we get some progress there as well,” Lerch said.

City officials said last week that the City Council is slated to discuss amending its development agreement with the project investors on Aug. 26 to address the changes to it.

Scott Byers said construction should start this fall.

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