By Douglas Laird and Karl Hoffman, Skogman Commercial Realty
Last year’s article on Cedar Rapids began by describing the 2020 Derecho windstorm that brought major damage to Iowa. This included our entire city of Cedar Rapids — an area of 75 square miles. There has been good progress toward recovery; yet many homes and businesses are still in need of repair. In addition, both individuals and companies confront inflation, energy costs and unpredictable consumer costs and shortages.
In spite of these hurdles, however, the growth in the multifamily, residential and industrial sectors matches national trends.
National rankings are exemplary for the city of Cedar Rapids:
• No. 10 in “Best Cities to Buy a House in America”
• No. 18 in “Cities with the Lowest Cost of Living in America”
• No. 3 in the list of “Top 20 Fastest Metro Areas to Save for Your First Home”
The multifamily sector has many exciting new projects in the pipeline totaling over $100 million. Here are just a few:
• First on First West: a mixed-use site along First Avenue West
• Loftus Lumber site: a five-story building with 186 market-rate units
• KCG Development at Jacolyn Drive SW
Land sales in our metro area exploded, especially in southwest Cedar Rapids by the eastern Iowa airport. This mirrors a recent national report in the 2021 land market survey featured in the summer 2022 edition of Commercial Connections. The report noted that sales are up by 6 percent.
Members of the RLI and NAR reported the best land sale performance since 2014, when they first began keeping records. The historically low mortgage rates and resulting increased home sales are credited with this increased demand for land. No other property types matched land sale growth.
The industrial sector continued its growth spurt beyond the major projects outlined in last year’s article. In 2021, facilities like UPS, FedEx, BAE and Travero were featured. For 2022, numerous speculative buildings are under construction throughout the metro area. Several recent announcements are impactful in their scope:
• Subzero: manufacturer of refrigerators
• HyVee Bakery
• Alro Steel: metal supplier
• Rexco Equipment
• Timpte Trucking
Several retail/office projects are being developed throughout the city, but they lack the scope of residential and commercial development. Major city projects continue, with the city’s unique “Paving for Progress” program in its eighth year. It was extended for 10 more years with a 70 percent voter approval in November.
The $750 million flood protection system is progressing toward completion. Recreational development is also tied to flood protection — for example, the “Connect CR” nature trail project.
Other highlights of 2022:
• $28 million of city ARPA funds, a stimulus bill intended to speed up recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic
• $40 million of CDBG Disaster Funds to be distributed in 2022 for creation of affordable housing
• $35 million West Side Library
• Home2 Suites hotel at Westdale Town Center
While we are only halfway through 2022, it is obvious that the Cedar Rapids metro area is a very dynamic and resilient community. Many of these noted projects will not be completed until deep into 2023. However, the momentum that Cedar Rapids has experienced is destined to continue into and past 2023.
Douglas Laird is a broker associate and Karl Hoffman is a realtor with Skogman Commercial Realty. This article originally ran in the August 2022 issue of Heartland Real Estate Business.