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New hotels, amenities to be built downtown in historic redevelopment project

The city said this project could bring in more than 200,000 customers into Cedar Rapids and create new jobs in the downtown area. The project is expected to be completed in two years.

On Thursday, Cedar Rapids city leaders unveiled what could be the largest development project in the downtown core.

"This is the most unique project we've had in cedar rapids," said Mayor Brad Hart.

"I've been here so many times with false starts on various projects...those weren't meant to be because we were waiting for this one," said Mike Whalen, CEO of Heart of America Group.

Heart of America Group will be integrating the existing Guaranty Bank and World Theater into the $50.8 million project to build two new Marriott hotels, a rooftop bar and Italian steakhouse.

"So you have classic historic building integrated with the new buildings," said Whalen.

"What we determined in talking to different conferences and conventions that were interested in coming to Cedar Rapids, that we need more rooms in the downtown area," said City Manager Jeff Pomeranz.

Pomeranz said the project will achieve this goal with more than 200 new rooms between the two hotels.

"It's estimated that it will contribute more than $16 million dollars in taxes for the current assessed value, and for the SSMID taxes that it will pay, and for the hotel motel tax," said Hart.

But it is more than just an investment in making Cedar Rapids a more vibrant hospitality hub, but it is an investment in preserving those historic buildings within contemporary development.

"That means they'll be preserved for generations to come, without this that's not likely to have happened," said Hart.

The city said this project could bring in more than 200,000 customers into Cedar Rapids and create new jobs in the downtown area. The project is expected to be completed in two years.

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