CEDAR RAPIDS – Save CR Heritage is exploring options to give Automobile Row Historic District a green light after the city decided to back out of an agreement to nominate the area to the National Register of Historic Places.
The non-profit group, which works to preserve the city’s historic resources, is examining ways to see the district move ahead after medical district representatives successfully opposed its formation.
Two meetings are scheduled for May 23, 2013, that could address the topic. The city Historic Preservation Commission meets at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Police Substation, 1501 First Ave. SE.
At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, an open house is scheduled in the third-floor community room of the Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa Medical Pavilion, 202 10th St. SE, to discuss the medical district’s master development plan.
The proposed Auto Row historic district, from Sixth to 10th streets SE between Second and Third avenues, would have paid tribute to the automobile industry’s importance in transforming Cedar Rapids into the second largest city in Iowa by the mid-20th Century.
At a Historic Preservation Commission meeting earlier this month, Tom Owen, a property owner in the proposed district, notified commission members that he and other owners had not been invited to a March meeting that would have provided information about the district.
Thomas Smith, city staff liaison for the commission, said five of those owners “were inadvertently missed in the process of compiling and mailing the information.”
Instead, only medical district representatives attended the meeting with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state officials. The medical district representatives all opposed the formation of the historic district.
The city has since backed out of the nomination, which had been required under an agreement with FEMA after the city demolished the First Avenue Parkade, which was deemed historic.
Commission members suggested the city re-open the issue and invite those property owners to Thursday’s meeting, as they didn’t have all of the information needed when they voted to drop the nomination.
However, Smith said Thursday’s meeting will only include an update about a subsequent letter that was sent to the property owners.
That letter was sent to owners in the proposed historic district on May 15, informing them that the city is no longer pursuing the Auto Row nomination, Smith said.
Already, one of the 16 contributing structures in the proposed Automobile Row district – those with distinctive architectural character – has been demolished. The former A-1 Vacuum, 209 Seventh St. SE, was razed earlier this year to make way for parking.