Cedar Rapids council approves preliminary incentive plan for Terex site redevelopment

Move comes as advocacy groups press council for affordable housing initiatives

A rendering of the proposed redevelopment plan for the former Terex property in northeast Cedar Rapids. VIA CITY OF CEDAR RAPIDS

In the midst of an ongoing push for affordable housing in Cedar Rapids, the city council on Tuesday approved a resolution on preliminary terms for city incentives to advance a redevelopment agreement for the former Terex plant in northeast Cedar Rapids – a plan that could bring nearly 200 new housing units to the market.

The $32.6 million redevelopment proposal has been in the works since 2019 and has come before the council several times since then. The developer, The Hub LLC, led by Ahmann Companies CEO Joe Ahmann, purchased the 3.2-acre site, at 916 16th St. NE, from Terex in June 2019 for $250,000.

Another view of the redevelopment proposal for the former Terex property in northeast Cedar Rapids. VIA CITY OF CEDAR RAPIDS

As currently proposed, the plan would include construction of 186 housing units, including studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, plus a mixed-use component. City economic development analyst Caleb Mason told the council the project currently calls for construction in three phases – a 36-unit repurposing of an existing Terex building, which would start later this fall and conclude next summer; a 78-unit building with a rooftop patio, also proposed to start this fall and be completed in mid-2023; and a 72-unit building that would begin construction in fall 2022 and be completed in mid-2024.

Mr. Mason said the project qualifies for the city’s “standard incentives under the targeted district economic development program” based on follow-up from a neighborhood planning effort as part of a push for revitalization of the area, part of the historic Mound View neighborhood.

While one of the former Terex buildings would be retained in the first phase of the development, the remainder of the site would be demolished to make way for the second and third phases, “and there’s significant cleanup of the site and remediation that’s required,” Mr. Mason said. The site was once part of an operation that made rock crushing and street paving equipment, and was closed by Terex in mid-2010.

Approval of the basic incentive agreement came after comments earlier in the meeting from several community advocacy groups, including Citizens for Community Improvement and Advocates for Social Justice, who urged the council to consider applying a significant portion of the city’s $28 million American Rescue Plan allocation toward affordable housing incentives. The city currently plans to allocate the funds, in conjunction with Linn County’s $44 million allocation, in four key areas: Housing, workforce training and education, west side flood control and revenue loss.

Another view of the redevelopment proposal for the former Terex property in northeast Cedar Rapids. VIA CITY OF CEDAR RAPIDS

In response to a question from council member Patrick Loeffler, Mr. Mason said expected average rent rates for the new units would be approximately $1.20 per square foot, and that a one-bedroom unit might be expected to rent for around $800 to $900 a month.

The site is part of the Cedar Rapids College District Action Plan adopted by the city council in December 2018. The plan covers a large area of the near-northeast quadrant that stretches from Coe College to Mount Mercy University and calls for preserving the area’s historic character, improving trail connections and walkability, improving stormwater management, adding more housing options and improving the area’s visual appeal, among other things.

Redevelopment of the 16th Street site would build on the momentum created by Mount Mercy’s conversion of another former Terex property into the Rinderknecht Athletic Center, which was opened in June 2019.

A formal development agreement for the property is expected to be presented to the council later this summer, Mr. Mason said.