Destination Attraction Project Forges Ahead at First & First West Development Site

Jul 30, 2020

Word that developers are ready to forge ahead with grand plans for a signature site in Downtown Cedar Rapids comes at an important time for economic recovery from the pandemic. With many businesses slowed, it is encouraging to see development plans still proceeding.

The Economic Alliance cheered the fact a local development group was chosen for the work over proposals from out-of-town companies. Buying from local companies, using local labor and choosing local developers all have a positive economic impact. More money stays circulating in the local economy when those things happen. At an estimated $100 million for the First & First West proposed development, there will be a lot of additional dollars churning through the local economy.

It also was important to the Economic Alliance and the Downtown District that the project fit what was imagined in the Vision Downtown Cedar Rapids Plan - a framework to create an even greater, more vibrant experience in Downtown Cedar Rapids - for this unique site. That plan urged community leaders not to rush to an ordinary project but rather to be patient for an extraordinary project. After several years of waiting, it does appear this could be an extraordinary destination attraction.

Last month, the Cedar Rapids City Council unanimously approved negotiating a development agreement for the eight acre riverfront project that will include housing, parking, a movie theatre, a brewery and a family fun center. That agreement will detail incentives, progress expectations and other items. Some site work could get underway yet in 2020, and the project will really take shape over the next couple of years. Economic Alliance member Ahmann Companies and local developers Nate Kaeding and Matt Swift are likely to use local contractors and subcontractors on the project.

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