The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Condos to be called Bottleworks: A new life for an empty Osada

In City Hall on March 25, 2008 at 10:16 pm

City Hall and PBI Properties, an affiliate of Point Builders Inc. of Cedar Rapids, have reached a tentative agreement on a development plan to convert the failed, 67-unit, low-income Osada loft-apartment complex into 58 condominium units.

The details of a development plan, which the City Council signaled its support for in November and which the city and company have been working on since, will be voted on by the council at its meeting Wednesday evening.

The matter was a late addition to the council agenda.

Fred Timko, president of Point Builders, on Tuesday afternoon said he expected to begin construction almost immediately on condominium units, which he said will be priced for the buyer at between $100,000 and $200,000.

Timko said he will build four model condos, sell those and continue. Some buyers will be able to have some say on what they want to see in their condominium, he said.

He hoped to have the first residents living in the building, at 905 Third St. SE, by summer, he said.

Timko said he didn’t foresee problems with the City Council approving the development agreement. The agreement provides up to $700,000 in buyer assistance, $100,000 for a park and money for streetscaping. All of that money will come from new property-tax revenue that will result from the improvements made to the building.

Timko estimated it would take six to seven years before revenue generated by the improved property would cover the incentives and then be ready to enter on the general property-tax rolls.

Timko said the new project will be called Bottleworks. In its day, it used to be a Hires Root Beer bottling works, he said.

The building sits next door to the WaterTower Place condominiums, and it is viewed by downtown advocates as an addition of a key downtown asset – more downtown housing.

Adding to the downtown housing stock is among several initiatives embraced by a coalition of community leaders and organizations intent on revitalizing downtown.

“I think this fits right in with their vision of what they want to do downtown,” Timko says.

The former low-income Osada apartments have been all-but empty since last summer after its owner and operator, the non-profit MidAmerica Housing Partnership, failed more than a year ago.

The non-profit Four Oaks stepped in to oversee the MidAmerica properties and has since taken many of them over under an entity called the Affordable Housing Network. The agency and others, though, concluded that the Osada property could not work financially as a low-income property.

PBI Properties is paying about $3 million for the building and plans at least $3.5 million in renovations. The company also is contributing $100,000 to NewBo Park, which the condominium association in the building will own but the entire neighborhood will have access to, Timko said.

The $700,000 buyer-incentive program will allow those who buy units to use a percentage of the cost of a unit for down payment assistance, closing costs or  other purchase costs.

  1. Lets see, isn’t Fred Timko on the “Long Term Planning Commission” for the city of Cedar Rapids? And isn’t that the driving force behind the “vision” for Cedar Rapids? And if that is so, isn’t all this a conflict of interest? So much for this being a project that relies heavily on citizen input while the very same people who are directly involved are featheriing their own nests.

  2. I don’t have a problem with this project and this building needs to be saved and put to a better use than before. I do have some concerns as to the Federal Funds previously used for the Osada Project. Will those have to be paid back and by who?? Remember, Federal dollars are our tax dollars also!


  4. I thought about buying one of the condos at Water Place Towers or Bottleworks. Currently the only reason I would consider purchasing one is if I worked downtown and I was single (or married with no children) and had no pets.
    Today I walked around the area on Third Street SE, between Eighth and 14th avenues SE. Evidently the City may improve this area into some form of arts and cultural district. I tried to imagine what my life would be like if I purchased a condo at Bottleworks and the area was improved as planned. Thus I decided to go for a walk. I started at Andrews Collision Center and walked east on 3rd street. This is what I observed:
    1. Bottleworks Condos;
    2. A small park;
    3. A house;
    4. A house that has a sign “unsafe, do not enter”;
    5. A business building that has a “for rent” sign on it;
    6. A house;
    7. Some type of business dealing with antique bicycles;
    8. The Cedar Rapids Peace Center;
    9. Creative Custom Framing (Coming soon);
    10. CSPS;
    11. Network Computer Systems;
    12. 3rd Street Resale;
    13. A brick building (I think it may be apartments);
    14. A house;
    15. Another house;
    16. A building with retail (retail portion looked vacant) on the bottom and apartments at the top;
    17. A building with a “for lease” sign;
    18. The Art Vault;
    19. The Village Bank;
    20. A house;
    21. An empty building;
    22. An empty and old gas station and car wash;
    23. A house;
    24. Another house;
    25. Another house;
    26. An empty building;
    27. Little Bohemia Restaurant.

    Thereafter I crossed the street and walked back toward the Bottleworks. This is what I observed:
    1. CR Cars;
    2. A house;
    3. Another house;
    4. Another house;
    5. Another house;
    6. Chrome Horse Saloon;
    7. Quality Chef Foods (Evidently the City owns this and they are going to tear it down);
    8. Brosh Funeral Chapel;
    9. A building that has (a) Miller Woodwind Repair, (b) WM Crawford, (c) Kidd Graphic Design, (d) Swartkopf Frame Woodwork;
    10. White Elephant Store;
    11. HD Youth Center With Soul Food;
    12. A house;
    13. Loftus Distribution Company (Is this the potential site for the proposed bus station?)
    14. Will bros furniture.

    What would my life by like? Well, I would get up and go to work downtown. Not sure if I would walk to work or not, especially in the snow or rain. The Alliant Tower is 0.6 miles away and Quaker is 0.9 miles away (per google maps). I’m not wild about crossing several busy streets. Some of the sidewalks are a little rough especially in the winter. Also, not sure I feel safe walking to work early in the morning or late at night. Maybe I will check out the bus. The last time I looked it was $31 for a month pass. This is a bargain unless you need to go somewhere after 6:30 pm on a week day. The bus is not a great option on Saturday and as far as I know it does not operate on Sunday. Also, the bus sometimes does not fit my schedule. Driving and parking do not seem like a good option. Riding my bike is a good option unless I’m dressed up. Also, I may be killed by a motorist. Summertime is bicyclist hunting season.
    What would I do in the evening? Well, I could walk down the brand new sidewalk and do the following.
    1. Workout at the YWCA;
    2. Go shopping at the White Elephant Store and 3rd Street Resale, the Art Vault, Creative Custom Framing, Will Bros Furniture. I’m not sure if these stores are open after 5?
    3. Go to dinner at the Chrome Horse Saloon, Tornadoes, the Bohemian restaurant or Caseys.
    4. Go to the Bank;
    5. Go to the recreation trial and walk, bike, skate, etc. although there is geese feces everywhere;
    6. Buy a used car;
    7. Sit in the small park;
    8. Go to the Peace Center;
    9. Go to CSPS (I’m not sure what this is);
    10. Go to a funeral.
    Some of these options might be ok. I would probably use the YWCA a lot. I might go to the Chrome Horse Saloon once a week. I would probably use the recreational trail. It would be great if they put in a nice park with shelters, lighting, grills, shuffle board, horse shoe ring, small chipping and putting green and/or a fenced “off leash area and trail” so I could walk and my dogs could run. I like the idea of moving the damn down river and creating a standing pool of water and possibly a beach, boat ramp, fishing, canoeing, ice skating area, etc.
    However, it is unlikely I will buy a condo because I perceive a substantial risk that it may decrease in value if the area fails. Hey, Osada failed. I think Water Place Towers still has some units for sale and I believe some condos are being subleased. This sounds like apartments to me.
    In addition, unfortunately I’m going to have drive to the grocery store, Target, Walmart, movie theater, car wash, day care, upper scale sit down eating establishment, etc.
    Well, if I need to get in my car to do these things then why don’t I buy a house or a condo closer to the grocery store, shopping center, golf course, public swimming pool, larger public park, more restaurants, and/or school. At least I can have a fenced yard where the kids can play, the dog can run and I can garden. One the main attractions of living downtown is ability to walk to all the places you want to go.
    I like the fact that the City Council is trying to do something. I don’t think this is the answer but it may work. I truly hope they are successful. If it doesn’t work I will not hold it against them.
    Some people say the problem is the age old “chicken and the egg” problem. First, people will not live there unless shopping, etc. is nearby. Second, businesses (i.e. shopping centers, etc.) will not build there unless people are nearby. I think they should look at it from another perspective. People will live near a nice and safe recreational area notwithstanding the fact that shopping, etc. is far away. For example, consider the houses on Lake McBride and the Coralville reservoir. The City has control over much of the land in the area and they can build a nice park and recreational area and they can make it safer. I believe the City has within its control the ability solve the chicken and egg problem. If you build a nice recreational area the people will come. When the people arrive businesses will follow. I would seriously consider buying one of the condos (assuming it was reasonably priced) if there was within walking distance a (a) nice park geared toward an older population (that was immaculately maintained) with shelters, lighting, grills, shuffle board, horse shoe ring, small chipping and putting green, tennis court, (b) fenced “off-leash dog area” for small and larger dogs, (c) routine police patrols and (d) place to access the river easily by foot in order boat, fish, sit at the beach, ice skate, hockey, etc.

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