Main Street Challenge Grants go to C.R., Marion projects

By Corridor Business Journal | Nov 30, 2016

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) has awarded $75,000 Main Street Iowa Challenge Grants for work on the White Elephant building in the Czech Village/New Bohemian Main Street District in Cedar Rapids, and for the Kuba-Kurtz Buildings in Uptown Marion – A Main Street Iowa District.

The awards were among 14 Main Street Iowa Challenge Grants announced this week for $3.7 million to advance brick-and-mortar projects in Iowa’s Main Street districts.

Located at 1038 and 1048 Seventh Avenue, the Kuba-Kurtz Buildings face City Square Park and back into the ImaginArt in the Alleys site. Arnold Property Group LLC plans to make front facade enhancements to create continuity between both storefronts while maintaining historic details. A vacant upstairs apartment will also receive updates, and the entire first floor will undergo a complete renovation to allow for the introduction of a new, locally owned establishment: Brick Alley Pub & Sports Bar.

The 1889 White Elephant building is one of the oldest surviving retail buildings in the Czech Village/New Bohemian Main Street District. It was threatened with demolition to make way for another development when a plan was developed by Save CR Heritage President Beth DeBoom and her husband Tom DeBoom to move the building to a different site and restore it.

Primus Construction of Cedar Rapids is working with the DeBooms to relocate, stabilize and restore the building on property owned by the DeBooms at 1300 block of Third Street, according to the Save CR Heritage web site. Laurie and Scott Konecny hope to operate a deli at the location, the group reported.

The Czech Village/New Bohemia Main Street District also received a $5,000 technical assistance grant to go toward a comprehensive wayfinding and signage program in the core downtown of Cedar Rapids.

“We are honored to receive these two awards,” said Jennifer Pruden, executive director of the district. “The funds help leverage private investment to make a big impact in District.”

The grants are administered through IEDA’s Iowa Downtown Resource Center and Main Street Iowa programs. The funding will be distributed in the form of matching grants to the selected Main Street programs.

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