City Receives Phoenix Award for NewBo District Development
The City of Cedar Rapids has been awarded a regional Phoenix Award for redevelopment of the New Bohemia District.
The Phoenix Awards are part of a nonprofit organization, The Phoenix Awards Institute, Inc., which recognizes outstanding achievement and innovation relating to environmental and community issues. The award acknowledges the transformation of a once heavily industrialized and abandoned brownfield site into the active and eclectic district it is today, and recognizes three key development initiatives that have helped create new economic vitality: The NewBo Market, the Geonetric Building (home of Geonetric, Inc., the Iowa Startup Accelerator, Vault co-working lab, and Iowa BIG), and The Depot.
The Phoenix Awards inspire and recognize exemplary brownfield redevelopment and revitalization. Winning projects offer a fresh take on significant environmental issues, show innovation, and demonstrate masterful community impact. Projects are judged primarily upon:
- Magnitude of the problems and the project
- Use of innovative techniques
- Cooperative efforts of multiple parties
- Positive impact on the environment, conservation or sustainability
- Project's general and long-term economic and/or social impacts on the community
The New Bohemia District is a mixed-use, vibrant community in the core of the City. Three major redevelopment projects located on several former industrial brownfield sites have been the catalyst for the redevelopment of the District. The New Bohemia District has become a regional attraction for arts and music, entrepreneurs, individuals looking for urban living opportunities, cyclists, local agriculture producers and consumers, and weekend shoppers.
The area has dramatically transformed from its industrial roots, which dates back to the 1870’s and included food processing and packaging, steel work, iron work, blacksmithing, and livestock industries that once operated on site. Over time, these industries closed and became abandoned, leaving a vacant eye sore steeped in environmental contamination.
Over $4 million has been spent on the environmental assessment and remediation of the New Bohemia District brownfield sites, which sparked the redevelopment of the District over the course of 15 years. Three new and successful development projects – which represent over $23 million of investment – played a significant role in economic revitalization following the devastation of the 31-foot flood in 2008:
NewBo Market: The NewBo City Market is located on the former Quality Chef Foods site and included a minimum investment of $1.5 million. The NewBo Market is a regional destination, supports regional agriculture, provides access to healthy foods, and serves as an event center. The Market Yard has become the neighborhood park where residents and visitors enjoy concerts, start off on a bike ride, or play in the giant sand box. The Market is a non-profit organization governed by a Board of Directors made of volunteers and representatives from local private companies.
The Geonetric Building: The Geonetric building was the first new construction project following the 2008 flood, providing catalytic investment and redevelopment momentum in the District. The Geonetric building houses Geonetric, Inc., the Iowa Startup Accelerator, Vault co-working lab, and the Iowa BIG program which is a community school district partnership to offer students authentic community engagement opportunities and interactions with professionals. The Iowa Startup Accelerator brings in aspiring business owners grow impactful startup businesses. The development accounts for a minimum investment of $4.5 million, is responsible for the retention of at least 60 local jobs, and includes office and commercial space.
The Depot: The Depot is a mixed-use development including 4 buildings with ground floor retail, upper story office and 46 apartments. The Depot includes a minimum investment of $17 million and is expected to bring new jobs through relocation of expanding businesses and home-based businesses. The project addresses area parking issues through shared parking agreements and includes market rate housing to add housing units to the District after the loss of housing as a result of the 2008 flood.
Partners on this redevelopment initiative include: The City of Cedar Rapids, The Housing & Urban Development Department, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and Iowa Department of Economic Development.