Approximately four years ago—June of 2008—the Cedar River finally crested well above flood stage in an epic disaster that inundated much of downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods. After three years of often bitter back and forth the wheels of recovery finally seem to be moving in the right direction. Just to give you an idea:
The new public library, whose predecessor was completely flooded and transferred to a private entity for redevelopment, is finally under way forming a new heart to the urban core. The city offices are moving back downtown for the first time since the flood as renovated buildings are completed. Several long gestating projects are underway and demolition of ruined properties has reached well beyond the halfway mark.
There is still a lot of work to do until the city can be considered “healed,” if that is even possible but there are signs of progress.
An opportunity that was “birthed” by the flood was to reimagine a former foods warehouse into something useful to the community at large. Sure, a warehouse that provides a service has utility but located in a burgeoning entertainment and—dare I say—lifestyle part of town would be a waste of space. Following the flood, plans were hatched for the New Bo City Market in the New Bohemia district of downtown Cedar Rapids. Across the Cedar River from the more famous Czech Village, New Bohemia or New Bo was becoming a nightlife and arts destination.
The idea is great—build a facility that can be used year round as a market for local vendors, much like a farmers market but with the benefit of cover, and serve as a center for community events. Considering that the former warehouse loomed over the neighborhood like a sullen ogre only makes the transformation more of a plus. Check out the progress and news at the Facebook page for the New Bo City Market or join the Friends of the New Bo City Market group.
Four years ago this is what the area looked like:
The arrow is where the New Bo City Market will be located when it is complete.
So, the immediate are will go from looking like this after the flood in 2008:
To looking something like this in fall of 2012:
If you get a chance, check out the happenings at the New Bo City Market’s Facebook page where new photos are added regularly and the progress of construction is well documented.
Every time I am downtown I take the opportunity to pass by the construction site and see the progress. Along with the new coffee shop and bookstore going into the CSPS building this area is becoming a real destination. It helps that Parlor City has somewhere close to 50 beers on tap and many great Iowa beers included in that inventory. When I need a Toppling Goliath fix, Parlor City is the go to place.