Update (Nov. 2, 2015) The city of Cedar Rapids received no bids on this home,so the demolition process will proceed. The next step involves the bidding of a demolition contractor and subsequent award of that contract.
By Cindy Hadish/Save CR Heritage
Debbie Cooper has watched as homes throughout her neighborhood have disappeared, building-by-building, but holds out hope that one might be saved.
“I had great neighbors,” said Cooper, who lives at 65 21st Ave. SW, one of the last homes still standing in the blocks abutting Czech Village.
She cited her best friend, who lived just two doors away, her great-nephew, and an elderly man who was a longtime friend of her father’s, among her former neighbors. All have since relocated following the 2008 flood and her father’s friend died shortly after.
“I miss my neighbors,” said Cooper, who has lived in her home for 12 years and previously resided in the Time Check neighborhood. “I miss being able to walk down B Street and visiting them.”
Another home may soon disappear, as the city finishes buying out properties that will be affected by the future flood control system.
The brick house at 43 20th Ave. SW, where the homeowners had returned following the flood, was recently purchased by the city.
Just one block away, city leaders celebrated when another brick home, even more elaborate, was demolished after the flood, leaving an empty swath of land throughout much of the neighborhood.
This time, however, an effort is being made to save a historic structure.
The city has listed the home for sale, provided that the structure be moved off the property. Sealed bids will be opened Oct. 30, 2015.
Jeff Hintz, a planner in the city’s Community Development Department, told the Historic Preservation Commission that the home is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places under two criteria: its architecture and its ties to a significant event.
City historian Mark Stoffer Hunter said that event is the development of brickyards in Cedar Rapids.
“We think it has ties to the brickyard on A Street,” Hunter Stoffer said, citing the business that existed nearby at the turn of the 20th Century. The home was built around 1905.
He noted that the brickyards would often build homes close by – as was the case with the other brick house demolished on 21st Avenue SW – that could be used to showcase the materials available for sale.
“It’s a nice, intact example of a brick house,” Stoffer Hunter said, citing architectural features, such as brick arches over the windows.
Although the city’s condition of sale notes that the building must be removed before the end of the year, Stoffer Hunter said more time is available.
Bids, however, must be submitted by the October deadline, with a plan for moving the building.
Another home nearby will soon be demolished. The house at 63 17th Ave. SW is deemed ineligible for the National Register of Historic Places and the Historic Preservation Commission declined to to place a hold on the city’s request for a demolition permit at its Aug. 27 meeting.
Cooper said she has been inside the smaller home, built in 1900, and wishes an effort also would have been made to save that one.
“There’s history in everything,” she said. “That dollhouse has just as much appeal (as more elaborate buildings.)”
Her own home dates back to 1890 and was inundated with more than 9 feet of floodwaters in 2008. Her then-husband insisted on staying and rebuilding, even as others in the neighborhood were discouraged from returning.
Half of the street in front of her house will soon be removed, as well, as 21st Avenue will no longer connect to A Street SW, only allowing limited access to her home from C Street.
Cooper questioned the city’s decision to remove the infrastructure, noting that visitors to Czech Village have little area to park as it is, especially during festivals.
Cooper described seeing eagles nesting in the trees that were removed, hearing owls calling from nearby, and observing other wildlife.
“Now it’s overgrown with weeds,” she said of the city-owned property in front of her home. “It used to be a wonderful neighborhood.”
Note: Anyone interested in purchasing the brick house can see this link on the city’s website for more information.
Update (Sept. 1, 2015) The city of Cedar Rapids provided the following information: The move date is now open and bidder needs to submit a timeline of their own for review as part of the bid; those interested in bidding need to submit the following information in their bid by October 30, 2015 at 1:00 PM: 1. Establish a timeline to relocate the structure; 2. Proof of financing to complete the relocation; 3. Winning bidder is responsible for securing the structure until moved. Please contact Carol Morgan at 319-286-5802 to arrange a tour of the structure or with any questions you may have.