City building with unique architecture is latest to face demolition in Cedar Rapids
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By Cindy Hadish/Save CR Heritage
CEDAR RAPIDS – A Cedar Rapids water department building constructed in 1930 is in the midst of a 60-day demolition hold after members of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission cited its unique architecture and asked if the building could serve an alternative use.
That outcome appears unlikely as city staff pushed to allow the building, known as the river intake and low lift station, to be “immediately released” for demolition.
“Keeping it is not an option,” said Adam Lindenlaub, a city planner who serves as a liaison to the commission.
Lindenlaub cited pipes that burst inside the two-story brick building, leaving water in the interior, and a 20-by-25-foot pit or basin outside the building that needs to be filled in. He did not have a cost estimate when asked if those issues could be mitigated in order to repurpose the building.
Situated between the Cedar River and J Avenue NE in Mohawk Park, the building is located near railroad tracks, he noted, with a park pavilion nearby.
Lindenlaub said the building would have been demolished in 2006 or 2007, “but other things came along that kind of prolonged that.”
A longstanding discussion item on the Historic Preservation Commission’s agenda, called “proactive preservation” exists for items of which city staff is aware that may be of interest to commission members.
Sharing those items in advance of demolition permit requests purportedly allows time to be taken for action to prevent historic properties from being demolished. The request for a demolition permit was the first time commission members were made aware of the pending demolition of the river intake building.
They asked if the building could be used by the parks department or if the facade could be saved, but it appears the city will not take any such action.
The site was used when water was taken from the Cedar River as the city’s drinking water source and permanently removed from service in 1989.
No historical survey was taken to know whether or not the building is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
The building is reminiscent of the Cedar Rapids Water Works Plant, just down the road from the river intake station. The plant, constructed in 1926 to1929, with buildings designed by Chicago architect Victor Andre Matteson in a Gothic Revival style, was put into operation in 1930, the same year the intake station was built.
Commission members placed a 60-day hold on the demolition permit, which will expire Nov. 26.
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