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New Living Space In Downtown CR

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA- (CBS2/FOX28)  It may be the worst kept secret in Cedar Rapids. That's because city leaders and developers are the first to step forward and announce it out loud: There isn't nearly enough cool, trendy, attractive living space in the downtown to meet a growing demand. 

Tuesday night nearly two hundred people filled two floors of the Metro Economic Alliance offices for the Urban Living in Downtown Cedar Rapids Meeting.  It's the second annual and once again the gathering brought in developers to show off their plans for the future.

Alliance Executive VP, Doug Neumann, says it's a chance to focus on the progress that admittedly seems to be slow, " We've known for a while the demand was there, we haven't been as successful on the supply side of things. " 

Some commercial real estate agents say the city has reached a point where there is simply too much available office space in the downtown and some of it should probably be converted to apartments and condos.  Neumann says finding the right fit and incentives for developers can be a tough challenge, but at least this year there are projects underway and the promise of up to 250 more units in the near future.

The Economic Alliance says nearly 95% of available living space in downtown Cedar Rapids is full.  Developer Fred Timko, well known for his many projects including Bottleworks Loft Condos and now Kingston Commons, says the area has become a magnet, " Just the vitality of the downtown, I mean I'm moving there myself.  You can walk to the theaters, walk to the restaurants, walk to the markets and the amphitheater. "

Alex Rannow and Monique Rosete, a young couple in their 20s approached several of the tables where developers showed off sketches or pictures of new living spaces. Alex says for him it's a change of scenery he's wanted to try for a long time, " I grew up way out near farms.  It was a subdivision but there was nothing around and I want to be able to walk to restaurants and bars.  "

Monique says it's just the vibe she gets from the area, " Everything happens down here, so definitely want to be down here, everything is more interesting, right?  "

Nearby cities, including Dubuque and Davenport have recently seen an explosion of lofts in old brick businesses and abandon factories.  Some have exposed walls, wood floors, massive windows overlooking rivers or cityscapes and high ceilings with exposed timbers. Neumann says the same thing will happen in Cedar Rapids, just a little bit slower, "There are projects in the works and I think you'll see some of those even come online later this year and there are several other projects just behind that. "
If you're curious to see what's available now and what's coming in the future for downtown living in Cedar Rapids, The Metro Economic Alliance launched a new website during the Urban Living Meeting where you can find all of that information.  Click here for the link.

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