Today has been BIG for the area near the Cedar River on the west side of Cedar Rapids.

The developers for an area bordered by 1st Avenue and 1st Street West, once reserved for a casino, received approval from the Cedar Rapids City Council today on a project term sheet that includes financial incentives. It moves ahead a $71 million mixed-use development that will change the face of the part of Cedar Rapids known as Kingston Village with a development that will be known as Kingston Landing.

The city council unanimously voted to provide 85 percent reimbursement of TIF (tax increment financing) for the project over the next 20 years as well as a one-time $1.5 million "Plaza Completion Grant" to be paid upon completion of the central plaza area of the development. More than 250 full-time positions are expected to be created by the development which is headed by local developers 1st and 1st West LLC.

Plans for the project have been tweaked since they were originally revealed last summer. It would be built in three phases over an eight-year period beginning in 2022. Now, let's get into the details.

The expansive development now includes a two-block area down the middle that would include a pedestrian walkway. Artist renderings provided by the City of Cedar Rapids describe the area as "Central Park". Caleb Mason, Economic Development Analyst for the City of Cedar Rapids, told the Gazette that the Central Park area might also include a large screen that could be used on game days. Anybody else visualizing a huge crowd there for Iowa football games?

An 8,000-square-foot Big Grove Brewery would open in the new development as part of phase one, likely in 2023, after about a year of construction. The 'Pickle Palace' would also be built in that phase of construction. It would have pickleball, including rooftop courts, space for events, a third-floor bar/deck, and a bar and grill.

The initial phase would also have a pair of mixed-use buildings for businesses as well as around 70 housing units. The Gazette says phase one of construction should wrap up by the end of 2025.

Phase two would include another mixed-use building, a series of townhomes, a 4-story building with 32 residential units, and a parking ramp. The ramp, something already desperately needed in the area, would be built and owned by the city. A small hotel, with around 100 rooms, might also be part of the second phase. The timeline for phase two would be from the summer of 2023 through the end of 2027.

A proposed entertainment center, estimated at between 25 and 30,000 square feet, would be built in phase three. That phase also calls for three mixed-use buildings that would provide additional space for both businesses and housing units. Construction on the final phase of the development would likely begin in the summer of 2024 and not be completed until the end of 2030.

Whatever shape the project takes in the end, it will need to align with future plans for First Street SW. Mason told the Gazette the city plans to eventually raise parts of that roadway 14 feet, as well as realigning the street to make it further from the river as part of ongoing flood control efforts.

The final development agreement for the project will be presented to the Cedar Rapids City Council in October or November.

You can watch today's Cedar Rapids City Council meeting here.

Proposed Development by 1st and 1st, LLC

The Cedar Rapids City Council advanced the project in September, estimated at $71 million. Construction at the site on the west side, close to the Cedar River downtown, is tentatively scheduled to happen in three phases. The first to begin in 2022 with the construction on the project not wrapping up until 2030.

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