CBJ Report: Van Meter plans $4.7M distribution center expansion in CR

CBJ Report

Van Meter plans $4.7M distribution center expansion in CR

Electric supply distributor Van Meter Inc. expects to begin work soon on a $4.7-million expansion of its distribution center at 915 32nd Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids.

The project will remove loading docks on the west end of the distribution center and add more than 40,000 square feet of space, Cedar Rapids City Council members were told Tuesday. It is expected to lead to the creation of 21 positions at the employee-owned company, some of which qualify the project for benefits under the state's High Quality Jobs program.

"We've experienced significant and consistent growth in recent years and are confident that our investment in an expansion will position us for continued success in the Midwest and nationally," Van Meter CFO Melanie Fisher Doyle stated in a press release. The work, to be completed by year-end, is part of a larger expansion project that involves property acquisition, company officials said.

The council agreed to back the building expansion by providing a required local match for the state's assistance under its own Local Match - Economic Development Program. City Economic Development Analyst Caleb Mason said the property tax rebates provided through the program would result in a benefit of about $355,000 over 10 years, and result in about $2.2 million in additional taxes paid over the current amount for the property during that period.

"Van Meter has been a very strong company and contributed to the community for a long time," Mayor Brad Hart said. "I'm happy to see them investing more in our community."

The Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance assisted Van Meter in its application for state and local assistance.

Headquartered in Cedar Rapids since 1928, Van Meter is Iowa's largest distributor selling more than 800 brands of electrical and automation products.

Development heating up on Boyson Road, along with traffic

A zoning change to make way for a mixed-use project with an 81-unit assisted living facility and retail center advanced Tuesday, and it appears an adjacent mixed-use development could be coming along right behind it.

Developer Steve Emerson's plans are expected to bring more than 54,000 square feet of development to the site near an existing broadcast tower, along with more than 130 parking spaces. He envisions the retail strip center attracting businesses that will serve assisted living and neighborhood residents, such as a coffee house or hair styling establishment.

The council voted unanimously in support of plans to rezone the property to a PUD-2 Planned Unit Development designation from an O-S Office/Service designation to accommodate the project. Discussion quickly turned to the busy traffic on Boyson, which has recently been the subject of a traffic study.

City development officials said traffic backups occur on westbound Boyson Road during the morning commute and on Boyson Road eastbound during the evening commute. A traffic study identified potential opportunities to relieve the congestion by adding a turn lane on Boyson Road as it turns south onto C Avenue and adding a third lane on Boyson, among other measures. City staff are considering the recommendation of a property assessment on the site to help pay for a third lane on Boyson.

Although traffic generated by the mixed-use project is not expected to significantly worsen congestion, more is coming. City Councilman Scott Olson said a planned unit development request could be coming to the city council soon for land on a site immediately to the east near a city water tower. That project could include multifamily apartments, self-storage units and a strip center, he said.

ImOn named Independent Cable Operator of the Year

Cedar Rapids-based ImOn Communications, which provides internet, cable TV and telephone services to residential and business customers in Eastern Iowa, has been named Independent Cable Operator of the Year by Cablefax Magazine.

Cablefax's annual Independent Cable Operator of the Year Award recognizes one company whose operating excellence has made a significant difference for its business and customers over the last year. The publication considers a number of factors, including technology innovation, customer service and financial success in bestowing the award.

ImOn last month announced the expansion of its fiber optic-enabled internet and cable TV service to the Bowman Woods neighborhood of Cedar Rapids and Marion. It also provides free community Wi-Fi service in downtown Cedar Rapids, at the McGrath Amphitheatre, NewBo City Market, various parks in Hiawatha, the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena and the Iowa City Ped Mall.

The company was recognized for the seventh time in 2017 as the Best Local Internet Service Provider by the readers of the Corridor Business Journal.

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