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Smulekoff Tale Not Over
CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) – Tuesdays, it became official. Smulekoff’s Furniture in downtown Cedar Rapids will close its doors for good after its 125th year in business. The corridor staple is taking advantage of the city’s federal flood buyout program.
It’s one of many properties to be part of the flood buyout program, but it might have one of the best stories to tell. The catch is that the city says that story isn’t over.
In 125 years of constant business, it’s hard not to make an impact on a city.
"We're sad to see the era end,” said Smulekoff’s Communications Manager Theresa Blair.
Between work that has to be done as part of the east side flood protection and the inability to find a new place to go, the company and city worked out a $4.7 million buyout before the federal flood program expires at the end of the year.
"There were some various locations that the owners had looked into,” said Blair.
But since the store is so big, she says it just never came together.
Cedar Rapids says that’s not where the Smulekoff tale will come to a close.
After the buyout is completed, the city will open the property up to proposals from developers.
“Really, primarily, downtown housing is our desire,” said Cedar Rapids Assistant City Manager Sandi Fowler.
"And maybe we can continue to honor the Smulekoff and Lipsky family by keeping that marquee out there by having the Smulekoff Apartments or condominiums versus the furniture store,” said Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett.
The hope is that new housing will increase the 24/7 population downtown. The city says having businesses and shops near 3rd Avenue is great, but it needs more people there all the time.
"Across the country, having people live in downtown help make sure that downtowns are alive 24-hours a day,” said Fowler.
If that plan becomes reality, the jingle we’ve all heard won’t just name a business and its location, it’ll highlight a family name and the place that it helped develop more than 125 years ago.
And might still help into the future.
The city says there are no formal times scheduled yet to hear any proposals.