State of Iowa awards $1.5 million in tax credits to two Cedar Rapids downtown housing projects

The Iowa Building in downtown Cedar Rapids. RICHARD PRATT PHOTO

Two downtown housing projects have received redevelopment tax credits for brownfield and grayfield sites from the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

Both projects are being undertaken by local developer Steve Emerson, according to an IEDA news release.

In the first project, the upper floors of the Iowa Building, located at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Third Street SE, will be converted to downtown housing units. The state will contribute $750,000 in redevelopment tax credits for the project.

The Iowa Building is individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is considered an Iowa grayfield site. Grayfield sites are abandoned properties that are vacant, blighted, obsolete or otherwise underutilized with some infrastructure in place; generally, the property’s current use is outdated.

The Former Skogman Realty headquarters building in downtown Cedar Rapids. RICHARD PRATT PHOTO

The second project, which is also receiving $750,000 in tax credits, will convert the old Skogman Realty headquarters property at 411 First Ave. SE into the Palmer Building housing development.

Combined, the projects will add 84 housing units in downtown Cedar Rapids.

“We are grateful that the state chose the Palmer and Iowa buildings for the brownfield/grayfield program,” Mr. Emerson said in the release. “Revitalizing and repurposing buildings is a costly endeavor and would not be possible without help from state programs like these to fill construction cost gaps.  We are excited and hopeful that our projects will increase the foot traffic in downtown Cedar Rapids and help our downtown businesses thrive.”

“These projects represent significant investment in our vibrant downtown community,” added Doug Neumann, executive director of the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance. “The tax incentives from the state will lead to $21 million in construction and development for the city, not to mention increased housing, which is sorely needed in our downtown area.”

The Economic Alliance assists with brownfield/grayfield applications as part of its ongoing commitment to drive economic development in the region.

In total, the state awarded $15 million in tax credit funding statewide, including $75,000 to the Webb Acres Gala Barn project on the grounds of the former Iowa Braille School in Vinton.