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Cedar Rapids Downtown Update

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28)  Putting a plan on paper and putting it into action can be two very different things.  Monday the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance met with business owners and those who have a stake in the downtown to assure them the revised Master Plan for flood recovery is on track.

 Alliance President Dee Baird explained that the plans, last updated in 2012, are definitely not just sitting on a shelf.  She says along with the long-range goals there are short-term successes that can already be celebrated.   Baird points to 3rd Street improvements, flood protection and housing as just three prime examples.

During the summer months an experiment began to turn 3rd street into a walking, dining, bike riding corridor.  The first hint of that plan showed up in the first three blocks from The Double Tree to 4th.  Baird says the planters, outdoor seating and alfresco dining won so many fans that the goal is to eventually expand the area all the way to NewBo,  Things like spring flowers and then summer flowers and fall flowers .. and thinking about how we even invest in equipment for cleaning sidewalks more frequently .. things of that nature that may seem small to some, but theyre really investments in our future.

 Baird says the $264-Million in flood protection promised by the state of Iowa in December is a second cornerstone.  It assures downtown business owners they have a safe investment for the future.

Finally, Baird says an item that didnt even show up on their radar five years ago is now the number one priority .. downtown housing.  She says last year 175 people indicated they would buy condos or lofts to live downtown if that kind of space existed.  Its the type of project thats become a huge hit in Dubuque, Davenport and Des Moines.  Both singles and empty-nesters are looking for unique floor plans, with amazing views, in walking distance of downtown attractions.  While eight developers are now looking at or working on projects in Cedar Rapids, including Kingston Commons, Baird says it just takes time, All of the cities that have done this will tell you its going to take 15 years .. ten at the earliest and more like 15 and you just have to start with those projects on the front end and it will snowball from there.    

Baird encourages everyone to keep an eye on the West bank of the downtown and the new amphitheater as well.  She says while the new space wasnt completed in time to see much use last year,  its now ready for a full schedule of events along the river for this summer.




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