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Plans for age-restricted, gated development in Cedar Rapids advance

Development would bring 36 units, clubhouse to site north of Viola Gibson Elementary

Ewing Properties of Pella is proposing an age-restricted, gated community in northeast Cedar Rapids, similar to this development in Pella. CREDIT EWING PROPERTIES

Article from CBJ | Corridor Business Journal

By: Richard Pratt

An age-restricted, gated housing development in northeast Cedar Rapids is moving forward in Cedar Rapids after the City Council approved the first reading of a zoning change for the property Feb. 14.

Under a proposal from Ewing Properties of Pella, a 12.5 acre parcel at 6600 Gibson Rd. NE, just north of Viola Gibson Elementary School, will be developed as a housing cooperative, with a total of 36 single-family homes and an associated clubhouse.

The proposal calls for rezoning the area with a Planned Unit Development (PUD) overlay, which allows for the construction of multiple single-family homes on a single parcel.

The hearing for the zoning change was postponed from the council’s Jan. 25 meeting after council members expressed concerns about the development, ranging from water retention and runoff issues, the impact on traffic patterns in the area, and questions whether the development’s character is compatible with the surrounding residential neighborhoods.

Some council members noted Cedar Rapids has relatively few gated communities, and wondered if the new development would include perimeter fencing that would create an atmosphere of exclusivity.

Ewing Properties president and CEO Ray Bisbee told the council Feb. 14 that there would not be a fence surrounding the entire development, though individual homes could have fences up to four feet high for privacy or pet containment. He also said the gate at the development’s entrance would likely only be in operation from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. to control traffic through the area.

He also noted Ewing has developed 11 cooperatives in Iowa, recently completed an age-restricted gated development in Pella and has similar projects under way in North Liberty and Waukee.

Addressing council members’ concerns, he said the project is actually “very compatible” with the Viola Gibson school in the area – presenting an opportunity, for example, for grandparents who live in the area to walk their grandchildren to school.

“It’s actually a very good fit for the community,” he added.

Councilmember Scott Olson said he supported the project as a “quality development” for the area, noting that a previous developer failed to follow through on plans to develop the area back in 2005.

The council unanimously approved the first reading of the PUD overlay rezoning. A second and potential third reading is slated for Feb. 28.

Another 6.4 acres on the west side of the PUD overlay is slated for potential future development by Ewing Properties.

Also Feb. 14, the council:

  • Formally approved a development agreement for Sub-Zero’s plans to construct a $140.6 million, 400,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at 10015 Sixth St. SW, just south of 7G Distributing and about a mile east of the Eastern Iowa Airport. The project investment would include $90 million in real property and improvements and $50.6 million in machinery and equipment. Construction is set to begin in August and is projected to be completed by August 2025. The project would create positions for 192 new full-time employees, 127 of which would be paid at or above the state’s current high-quality wage rate of $24.20 per hour. The state requires those jobs to be filled by December 2026.

  • Awarded a contract to Garling Construction for $5.124 million for the renovation of the Colonial Centre building. The adaptive reuse plan will transform the former Colonial Centre at 1500 Second Ave. SE, which has sat empty for more than a decade and been vandalized several times, into 25 affordable housing units, five of which will be fully accessible for residents with mobility challenges.

  • Approved the second and third reading of a rezoning request from Hawkeye Downs owner Roger Cassill to change the zoning for the Hawkeye Downs property from light industrial to general industrial. Under the proposal, the majority of the 88-acre site would continue to comprise an auto racing facility, convention hall and storage buildings, but nine acres on the property’s northeast side would be converted to serve as the relocated site of the Sunline auto salvage yard, which currently operates just to the north of Hawkeye Downs.


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