Cedar Rapids moves to keep several ‘historic,’ flood-damaged buildings off demolition list

City wants to save old Time Check firehouse, too

Posted by PM on February 6th, 2012 5:41 pm

Some history here is on target to be saved.

Nine months ago, City Hall made it clear it wasn’t going to let the wrecking ball get a little, century-old, neighborhood fire station at Fifth Street and E Avenue NW.

And on Thursday, city officials set a public open house for Monday, Feb. 13 to get ideas from neighbors and others about how to reuse the historic, flood-damaged building.

The open house is 4 to 6 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Parish Center, 120 Fifth St. NW.

In addition, City Hall has received proposals from three entities interested in saving other flood-damaged city buildings that have been on the city’s demolition list after being bought out by the city.

In response to a request from the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, the City Council had said it would keep certain building off the demolition list until Feb. 1 to see if anyone had an interest in redeveloping them. Three entities do.

One of the three proposals comes from KHB Redevelopment Group LLC of Cedar Rapids, which has expressed an interest in redeveloping and relocating if necessary three commercial buildings at 102 Third Ave. SW (Gatto Building), 120 Third Ave. SW (office building) and 426 First St. SW (Emerson Lock & Key).

KHB is comprised of three local businessmen, Robert Hach Jr., former owner of the historic Hach Brother Building, 401 First St. SE; David Kapler, a licensed civil engineer; and Timothy Blumer, a retired Rockwell Collins electrical engineer.

A second proposal comes from Baron Stark, president, Stark Real Estate Holdings Inc., Fairfax, Iowa. Stark also has expressed in interest in the above three buildings as well as a commercial building at 222 Third Ave. SW (Barron Motor Supply), one at 615 K Ave. NW (barbershop and Laundromat) and a church at 800 G Ave. NW (Lifeline Ministries Church).

Stark, who is redeveloping properties in Czech Village, previously entered into redevelopment agreements with the city that have removed the former A & W Family Restaurant, 1132 Ellis Blvd. NW, from the city’s demolition list as well as two Czech Village storefronts at 1501 and 1507 C St. SW.

A third proposal is from the New Bohemia Group Inc., which proposes to redevelop a commercial building at 1207 Second St. SE (Cedar Rapids Tent & Awning) and three houses, 1226 First St. SE, 213 13th Ave. SE, and 1301 Third St. SE.

The New Bohemia Group Inc. envisions turning the commercial building into the group’s central office and a welcome center for the neighborhood. The houses would provide living and working space for artists in a “NewBo Artist Colony,” John Schnipkoweit, president of the group, says in a proposal letter to the city.

Christine Butterfield, the city’s community development director, on Thursday said that her department will review the proposals in preparation to present them to the City Council for consideration.

As for the old firehouse on E Avenue NW, city officials said last spring that moving the 3,925-square-foot brick building probably was a better option than keeping it in place.

The building sits in the midst of a major storm sewer reconstruction project under E Avenue NW, for which the city has received an $8.9 million federal grant.

The firehouse opened at the start of 1909 when firefighters and their fire horses moved into the building. Less than three weeks later, on Feb. 23, 1909, one of the horses, Tom, was seriously injured and put down at the scene after crashing into the F Avenue bridge on the way to a fire call.

“This is entered into the log book with the deepest regret to all,” the fire captain wrote at the time.

To find out more, go to: thegazette.com