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CBJ Report: Pilot Travel Center looks to land in southwest Cedar Rapids

CBJ Report

Pilot Travel Center looks to land in southwest Cedar Rapids

Pilot Flying J is eyeing a site just off Interstate 380 at the Wright Brothers Boulevard exit in southwest Cedar Rapids for a Pilot Travel Center.

The Cedar Rapids Planning Commission recommended a change in zoning for 6.3 acres at 8950 Earhart Lane from an agricultural to a regional commercial designation for the combination convenience store and fueling facility at its June 8 meeting.

The location is just northeast of the intersection of the I-380/Wright Brothers Boulevard interchange, on the opposite side of I-380 from convenience stores with truck fueling islands operated by Kwik Star and Casey's General Stores.

Brad Alsup, project manager for Pilot Flying J, said the company wants to move as quickly as possible on the project. If anything slows the project down, it will likely be the desire by city planners to ensure that the road infrastructure is up to the increased traffic volumes it can expect if and when the travel center opens.

Mr. Alsup said traffic studies conducted by Pilot Flying J are favorable for its project plans, however city staff want to see 24-hour traffic counts. They would also like to wait until later this summer when nearby Kirkwood Community College's fall semester begins to get a more complete picture of the traffic situation, city Land Development Coordinator Vern Zakostelecky said.

Plans call for a 8,200-square-foot convenience store/restaurant with fueling lanes for trucks on one side and other vehicles on the other side. Stormwater would be retained on an undeveloped portion of the property to the north. Parking would consist of 35 truck spaces, and 58 spaces for other vehicles. The proposal will go to the Cedar Rapids City Council for a public hearing and first reading on June 27.

VUE bar and restaurant to top new IC Hilton Garden Inn

Iowa City's first high-rise rooftop bar and restaurant will open downtown this fall at the new Hilton Garden Inn, with a suitably hip name.

The 6,000-square-foot facility, located atop the 12-story hotel, will be called VUE, and will span the entire roofline of the building, Ben Kinseth of Kinseth Hospitality said Wednesday as part of a community economic development luncheon sponsored by West Bank.

Designed to be a "dynamic facility," it will feature a full kitchen, multiple bars and indoor/outdoor spaces. It will also include space for private events, capable of seating up to 50 people.

Developers were looking for a "super-regional" draw in developing the VUE concept, Mr. Kinseth said, adding that "it will have a great view of the Iowa City skyline."

The $34 million hotel located near the intersection of Burlington and Clinton streets will feature 143 rooms and employ about 150 people in all, Mr. Kinseth said. Many of those people will be hired over the next three months as the project enters its final stretch. VUE is expected to open Sept. 15.

Iowa's first women's workspace opens in Cedar Rapids

The Dostal House, a multi-use space billed as Iowa's first women's workspace and social club, is now open in Cedar Rapids' New Bohemia district.

Outfitted with an open-plan workspace, a private meeting room, a full-service salon and a design house/retail space, the Dostal House concept aims to be a "home away from home" office for women in the Corridor, according to founder Meegan Hofmeister.

"I created The Dostal House out of conviction; I found myself to be lonely in my own journey as a female entrepreneur," she said in a press release. "With my first business I struggled to find good mentors in my industry, to help guide me as I learned how to run my business. I wished I had someone or someplace to turn to for support and guidance, to be able to pick others' brains and to bounce ideas off of."

Ms. Hofmeister has been an active in the NewBo district for years, co-founding The Boutique in 2013, and working with startup WRITTEN Apparel as part of the Iowa Startup Accelerator's 2016 cohort.

The Dostal House is located at 1000 Third St. SE, Suite 1. The salon and retail storefront are open to the public, while the coworking space is reserved for women, and by membership only. The salon and retail hours will vary. A grand opening event will be held July 8, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

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