Auction set for former Transamerica site in Cedar Rapids

$1.75 million starting bid set for 51-acre property; local agent optimistic for redevelopment

Former Transamerica site
The former Transamerica site at the intersection of Edgewood Road and 42nd Street NE is shown in November 2021, after several buildings on the site were demolished. CREDIT RICHARD PRATT

The former Transamerica site in northeast Cedar Rapids is going up for auction later this month, and a local real estate agent handling the site said he’s optimistic the property will be sold and redeveloped by a new owner.

The 51-acre site at 4415 N. River Blvd. NE, northwest of the intersection of Edgewood Road and 42nd Street NE, was largely vacated when Transamerica moved its Cedar Rapids operations to the former Hibu site in southwest Cedar Rapids, a process that began in 2016 and continued gradually for several years thereafter.

A number of older buildings on the River Boulevard property were demolished in 2021, but three structures remain, including a pair of 100,000-square-foot Class A office buildings, constructed in 1994, and a 14,000-square-foot former day care facility. Surrounded by a chain link fence, the land has sat essentially vacant for the past year.

The online auction, being conducted by Ten-X of Irvine, California, is slated for June 20-22, with a starting bid of $1.75 million.

Mike Esker of Coldwell Banker, the local real estate firm listing the property for sale, said there is a minimum reserve price that must be met to purchase the property.

He said Transamerica still owns the property. It was under contract to purchase on two occasions – first by Hunter Companies, then by Edgewood West, a group of local investors.

The auction process offers a number of advantages to make a sale more likely, Mr. Esker noted.

Transamerica site demolition
Crews from DW Zinser of Walford continue working on the demolition of former Transamerica buildings in northeast Cedar Rapids Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021. CREDIT RICHARD PRATT

“By using the accelerated marketing and closing process, the sellers are provided all the due diligence, material and access to the property on the front end,” he noted. “The buyers can look at the property and have all the information that’s in the document library on the 10–X platform, so they can make a decision to proceed or not at the time of the auction. We’ll know we have a sale.”

The accelerated arrangement offers potential closing on the property as soon as the end of July, Mr. Esker said.

The property “contains ponds, a forest reserve, and water features characteristic of a class A office and retail development and is located at a signalized intersection,” the auction listing says. “A large, lush area toward the back of the property contains a day care, a walking trail, and a peaceful setting for potential residential or multifamily development.”

The property has been listed for sale since March 2021. Since the auction was announced, Mr. Esker said a number of interested “local, regional and national” buyers have surfaced. The property is zoned for flexible development, including commercial offices, retail, residential, parks, walking trails and sports courts. It’s likely the new buyer’s development plans will include a mix of retail, office and single-family or multi-family residential components, Mr. Esker said.

“Potential buyers have brought a lot of great creative ideas and thoughts about repurposing those buildings, maybe keeping some of them for office use,” Mr. Esker said. “You’ve got a beautiful chunk of ground land out there, a lot of flexibility. It’s really going to be a pretty cool mix. Most of the buyers have been pretty excited, when they get a chance to see it and learn a little bit more about the location and all the possibilities the property holds. We’re very optimistic this thing’s going to get sold.”

Since the property has been listed for sale, a group of local property owners near the site have voiced interest in the plans for the site, including attending rezoning meetings for the site. They’ve organized a Facebook group and continue to seek input from area residents.

“We are hoping our neighborhoods will be included in the development thoughts for a cohesive bond and continuation of the neighborhoods that we have known and loved all these years,” said Dave Watson, the Facebook group’s administrator.