Neighboring houses could be torn down near Cedar Rapids Country Club
Long-range plans for the Cedar Rapids Country Club call for expanding into the neighborhood, but leaders are open to having houses moved, rather than demolished.
Anyone interested in those homes would have to act fast, however. Holds on demolition permits for two of the buildings expire July 22, 2013, which would allow the homes to be razed at any time after that date.
The city of Cedar Rapids has no requirement to notify neighbors about pending demolitions, which has caught homeowners in the area off-guard.
Beverly Thompson-Travis, 70, has owned her home overlooking the scenic Country Club for 23 years.
“One of the reasons we bought it was because of the sense of neighborhood and because the houses are so well-constructed,” said Thompson-Travis, a retired United Church of Christ minister. “I like to live in a neighborhood where people can get acquainted and build some sort of community. To me, that’s what quality of life is.”
But that sense of community will be torn apart, she said, if her house is surrounded by vacant lots. The home next door, at 444 Fairway Terrace SE, and one behind, at 345 27th St. Dr. SE, could be demolished by the end of July.
The Country Club, 550 27th St. Dr. SE, which owns the homes, took out demolition permits from the city. Thompson-Travis said she was not notified and was shocked to hear the buildings were going to be razed.
“It’s despicable,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s immoral or amoral.”
Tom Peffer, president of the Country Club, said he was not aware that the Fairway Terrace home would be demolished anytime soon, but noted that the 27th Street Drive home costs more to maintain and rent out than it will for demolition. Peffer suggested that neighbors, perhaps, might applaud the demolition, given the appearance of the building. He said the Country Club has not had the home painted because of the pending plans to raze it.
Peffer added that he would be in favor of having either home moved, but someone would have to indicate their intentions for the 27th Street Drive home soon.
The Historic Preservation Commission placed a 60-day hold on both demolition applications so the homes can be salvaged and both holds expire July 22.
While there are no immediate plans for the land, the Country Club has been purchasing homes in the neighborhood with an eye toward future expansion. Tennis courts or parking are among the possibilities, Peffer said, though nothing specific is in the works. If the city allows parking on vacant lots, that is one short-term plan, he added.
Previously, a home owned by the Country Club on 27th Street Drive was demolished and the lot has remained empty.
Renters at the Fairway Terrace home said the house is in great shape, but their lease ended and they planned to move at the end of June. The other home has been vacant for months.
The 2013 assessed value of the 27th Street Drive home is $132,927, while the Fairway Terrace home was assessed at $188,183, according to the Cedar Rapids Assessor’s website, with nearly $7,000 in annual taxes to leave the city’s coffers.
Like Thompson-Travis’s home, the house on 27th Street Drive, built in 1939, and the 1940-built Fairway Terrace home exude charm with similar amenities: masonry fireplaces, hardwood floors and enclosed porches that look out onto yards dotted with towering, mature trees.
Thompson-Travis said she has repeatedly been asked to sell her home to the Country Club. The last time, she said, “it started to feel like harassment,” so she asked not to be contacted again.
Both she and her housemate, a retired Franciscan nun, said they have no intention of moving, especially if the end result is that the home would be demolished.
“They just don’t build houses like this anymore,” Thompson-Travis said.
The corner home between the two houses belongs to John Fischer, who retired in 2001 after 35 years working as general manager for the Country Club.
Fischer, who immigrated first to Canada and then the United States after escaping his homeland of Hungary during the revolution of 1956, said he has no plans to sell his home.
“I don’t have anyplace to go,” he said.
FYI: Anyone interested in moving either home can call Christophe Granger, general manager of the Cedar Rapids Country Club, at: (319) 363-9673.