The construction boom in downtown Cedar Rapids shows no signs of slowing. A project that will change an entire downtown block got approval on a tax incentive Tuesday, paving the way for two more downtown hotels and a new steakhouse.
The Heart of America Group will be transforming the historic 78,500 square-foot Guaranty Bank Building at 222 3rd St SE into a steakhouse and hotel. The ground floor will house Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse, which is expected to be approximately 8,000 square feet. The five floors above ground level will be part of a Courtyard by Marriott that could have as many as 80 rooms. Heart of America Group has agreed to put at least $20.3 million into that building.
While work on the former Guaranty Bank Building is happening, a new building will be built next door, in the 300 block of 3rd Ave. That building will be an 84,000-square-foot AC Hotel by Marriott. The ground floor will have a fitness center that’s shared with the adjacent Courtyard by Marriott, while the seven floors above ground will feature up to 125 rooms for guests. ‘The Republic,’ a restaurant and bar, will be on the building’s rooftop. Heart of America Group must spend at least $30.5 million on this building, as per an agreement with the city.
Neither agreement mentions the former World Theater. However, the developer hasn’t forgotten it. Project renderings from the developer (at bottom), show the building’s facade and entry will be part of the new hotel they’ll be constructing.
The Cedar Rapids City Council unanimously approved a total of $13.6 million in incentives for the project. Heart of America Group is pursuing historic tax credits, which could delay construction. It’s hoped that can begin as soon as this October. Once the work begins, it should be done within a couple of years.
According to the Gazette, Cedar Rapids Council members raved about the project. Ann Poe told Heart of America Vice-President Kirk Whalen, “We appreciate everything you are doing for our downtown. That sense of civic pride in taking this beautiful, historic building and renovating, and then adding to it. Thank you. I can’t wait.”
Ashley Vanorny said another council member told her, “It doesn’t even look like it belongs in Cedar Rapids because it’s so beautiful and because we’re so used to just the same old same old. But this is what we deserve. We deserve this creativity.”
Heart of America Group is not new to either restaurants or hotels. The company runs four restaurants and seven hotels in Des Moines. They also operate a hotel in the Quad Cities, along with five restaurants.
This project promises a great extension of their portfolio and will make a beautiful addition to downtown Cedar Rapids.