Featured Faces & Spaces
Enticing Urban Living Options
Design & Rightsizing Trends
COMING SPRING 2018
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The Landing II
COMING SPRING 2018
Urban living at its finest, in the heart of
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offers commercial/retail space on the first floor.
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Luxury condos and penthouses for lease or
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FROM THE PUBLISHER
It has been a year since we published our inaugural Lure of the City magazine on urban
living in Iowa’s Creative Corridor, and it’s impressive to see just how much progress our
cities have made since then.
Major developments from the Depot in Cedar Rapids’ New Bohemia district to 808 on
Fifth in Coralville are attracting tenants, the long-delayed Chauncey tower in Iowa City is
finally underway, and new concepts proposed in downtown Cedar Rapids promise even
more options in the coming years. Meanwhile, new restaurants, retail shops and cultural
amenities in our core districts are making a truly walkable
existence possible in the Creative Corridor.
This progress is crucial to our future as a competitive,
attractive region, and the main reason behind this publication.
We here at the CBJ have set out to spotlight the best urban
living our region has to offer and celebrate the people who are
working hard to make it happen. At the same time, we hope to
offer a counterpoint to those who say our region does not have
enough to keep young professionals and retiring baby boomers
in our communities.
This year’s publication doubles down on many of the most
popular features from last year’s edition, including glossy
photo essays featuring local spaces, insightful interviews with
developers and a look at emerging interior design trends, as
curated by the Corridor’s leading design talents. We’ve also added a glimpse into a local
developer’s adaptive reuse of the historic Mott Building in Cedar Rapids, and speak with a
national expert on minimalism about “rightsizing” – a goal of many now moving downtown.
We are confident this guide will continue to evolve and grow into an important
resource for those interested in living the city life right here in Eastern Iowa. There are
certainly plenty of developments to cover, and we hope you’ll follow us throughout the
year ahead to keep track of them all.
We are also excited to announce the launch of a spin-off magazine, called Lure of the
Country, which will be published this fall. That concept will take the opposite approach of
this magazine, spotlighting the Corridor’s more rustic and rural living options for those
who gravitate to open spaces, as opposed to open shops.
Whatever your inclination, we invite you to share your images and perspectives on
life in the Corridor through our social media pages. Find us on Twitter, Facebook and
Instagram, and add your voice to the conversation.
Chief Executive Officer
John F. Lohman
Aspen N. Lohman
Chief Operating Officer
& Associate Publisher
Editor & Chief Content Officer
Graphic Design Manager
John F. Lohman
Chief Executive Officer & Publisher
Corridor Business Journal
Event Media Consultant
Marketing & Distribution Manager
Event Marketing Coordinator
ON THE COVER
Two years ago, Cedar Rapidians Tom and Cathy Petersen
made the move from Crescent Street to the NewBo district.
Read their perspective and those of three other diverse
urban residents starting on page 6.
Contents are registered to Corridor Media
Group. Reproductions or other use, in whole
or in part, of the contents of the publication
without permission is strictly prohibited.
2345 Landon Road, Ste. 100
North Liberty, IA 52317
Featured Faces & Spaces
Enticing Urban Living Options
Design & Rightsizing Trends
4 LUREOF THE CITY
Lure of the City
Residents rethink downtown
A look at some of
the Corridor’s existing
urban living options
On the Horizon
Urban projects on the rise
Kathy and David Gimer
and Randy Miller
Mott Lofts save the past
Corridor designers share
the look of the city
Organizing for the
next chapter of life
LUREOF THE CITY 5
the lure of the citY
BY RUTH PAARMANN PHOTOS BY BEN KAPLAN
Area residents reflect
on life in the heart of the
The Petersens enjoy relaxed loft living
in the Bottleworks Loft Condominiums.
Since fall of last year, Shannon Beck and her
son Willem have embraced the simplicity and
perks of living near downtown Cedar Rapids.
eady or not, the world is becoming
more urban — and it seems the Corridor
is ready. According to the World
Health Organization’s Global Health
Observatory data, the global urban
population is expected to grow approximately
1.84 percent per year from 2015-2020.
Across the Corridor, the residents reflect
diverse populations. Retired people, young
professionals, empty nesters and single parents
all cite various reasons for moving to —
and loving — the urban lifestyle.
Shannon Beck, a single mom and life coach,
moved from the home where she grew up
on Cedar Rapids’ northeast side to a unit in
Village Lofts last fall. With an office in the
Cherry Building, her eyes were open to all that
downtown had to offer.
“I always wanted to experience loft-style living.
With a busy life, I love that I don’t have to
take care of the lawn or snow,” she said. “And
we love being near downtown.”
She and her son, Willem, enjoy riding their
scooters around town, and Ms. Beck likes being
close to lunch meeting options and the gym.
“I like the views of the river and the vintage
Quaker Oats sign. And who doesn’t love stone
counters and stainless appliances?” she noted
of the amenities in her unit.
Another plus: heated indoor parking. While
she now drives Willem to school every day,
they truly enjoy their commute together.
Across the Cedar River in the Bottleworks Loft
Condominiums, Cathy and Tom Petersen gave
in to their lifelong interest in having a cool,
historic urban space. Having lived near Omaha,
they were intrigued by the warehouse conversions
there. In 2015, as their kids left the nest,
they moved out of their Crescent Street home
in southeast Cedar Rapids and into two condos
they combined into one customized living space.
“We’ve been downtown people for years,”
said Mr. Petersen, who has worked at various
“We go out to eat, go to the theater, CSPS,
the farmers’ market — we have always come
downtown for everything,” said Ms. Petersen,
who owns Wit’s End in Marion.
The couple appreciates their home’s history.
“It’s on the National Register and there was
a bakery on this floor,” said Mr. Petersen, who
serves on the condominium’s homeowner’s
The couple considered buying an acreage, but
found the scale of maintenance daunting. They
don’t miss snow removal or lawn care, plus they
use less gas, as Tom walks to work when he can.
When remodeling the units, they ensured
that their college-aged kids would have awesome
rooms. Plus, they added loft seating and
office areas. >
LUREOF THE CITY 7
“It’s very fun not to be constrained by size,” said
Ms. Petersen of their 16-foot ceilings and ample brick
walls that allow for large works of art.
Other than the occasional trains they say the place
is amazingly quiet. The only thing missing for these
urbanites is a grocery store within walking distance.
For Ednamae and Ken Fisher, their apartment in the
Iowa River Landing provides the perfect transition
from their north Coralville home to one they are
building in North Carolina. Mr. Fisher, CFO of University
of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, retires in July.
“It provides a bridge between our old house and
a new house. It has what we need and it’s easy to
maintain,” Mr. Fisher said.
The new, move-in ready unit was a big draw. Mr.
Fisher is also closer to work, and Mrs. Fisher has easy
access to shopping at Von Maur and other boutiques.
“The restaurants here are great. We like to people
watch, especially when we can sit outdoors,” Mrs.
Fisher said. “It’s a friendly, social environment here.”
They also enjoy the trails, although Mrs. Fisher often
walks with friends in their former neighborhood.
One of the difficulties was choosing furnishings to
fit. This meant that Mrs. Fisher’s grand piano went
to a friend’s house until their big move.
Another change was to their grocery shopping.
“We shop every day now, and that way, we don’t
have to bring big bags of groceries back upstairs,”
Mrs. Fisher said.
“We market shop, like in Europe or on the East
River in New York City,” Mr. Fisher added.
ABOVE: The Petersens love having large walls in
their loft condo for hanging vivid artwork.
For Suzanne Lagina, downtown Iowa City has been
the perfect place to retire. She now lives close to
siblings in Cedar Rapids, and her Plaza Towers condo
is in proximity to almost everything she needs.
“I wanted to be able to walk to as many places as
possible,” she said.
When moving from Chapel Hill, Ms. Lagina considered
Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, but the density
of activities in Iowa City eventually won out.
“I volunteer at the hospitals, both of which are walkable
from downtown. I like the whole atmosphere and
having the market, gym, swimming pool, library and
Senior Center all so close. It is the perfect location.”
One of the challenges was downsizing.
“It’s something you need a reason to do, but it’s
all good. It helps you see what you truly like and
need,” she said.
Ms. Lagina loves her views of the city, the Ped
Mall and spectacular sunsets. And she can always
find something to do, from FilmScene to the city’s
annual jazz and arts festivals.
“It’s a constant feeling of excitement and being
alive,” she said. “I didn’t know a soul when I moved
here. Being able to have all of these places to go and
develop new friendships and groups, like the tennis
team and dancing team, the people at church and the
volunteer activities — they helped me develop lots of
new friends with similar and different backgrounds.” |
8 LUREOF THE CITY
Just like you,
we chose the Corridor as our home.
3100 Oakland Rd N.E. Cedar Rapids
118 Second Ave. SE Cedar Rapids
IN THE CORRIDOR
Iowa’s Creative Corridor offers a variety of enticing urban living
options, from apartments in unique historic structures to beautiful new
construction in up-and-coming neighborhoods. Here’s a sampling.
201 Ninth Ave., Coralville
1 & 2 bedroom luxury apartments
591-1,191 square feet
Set in the heart of Coralville’s Iowa River
Landing, this four-story structure was
completed in June 2016, and features 64
one- and two-bedroom luxury apartments.
Each unit is on a single level and
features a variety of high-end finishes,
including stainless steel appliances,
upscale cabinetry and stone countertops.
The bathrooms are tiled and include
imported fixtures, while the attached
patios/balconies allow residents to take in
all the action around them. The building also includes garage
parking on the first floor and elevator access to each level.
In addition to its proximity to cafés, restaurants and boutique
shopping – soon to include a Trader Joe’s – the location is also
conveniently located next to Coralville’s Transit Intermodal
Facility, which connects local and regional bus routes.
460 12th Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
1 & 2 bedroom apartments and condominiums
575-1,175 square feet
Residential living options in Cedar Rapids’
trendy NewBo district are expanding to include
more live/work options, including luxury condos
above the shops and offices in The Depot.
The first building in the $18 million
development was completed last year with 13
rental units on the third floor, and the second
building will be completed later this fall with 26
rental units. Designed by Fusion Architects, the
buildings have open-concept floor plans with
luxury details including 10-foot ceilings, quartz
kitchen countertops and tile bathroom floors.
Renters have a choice of one-bedroom
units starting at 575 square feet; two-bedroom,
two-bath units starting at 875 square feet; and three-bed, two-bath units topping out at 1,175 square feet.
Most of the units have private balconies, and all come with on-site parking, front load washer/dryer units
and luxury vinyl tile flooring.
All 13 of the rental condos in the first building have already been leased, with demand driven by nearby
cultural and lifestyle amenities such as the NewBo City Market, CSPS and The Vault coworking space.
450 First St. SW, Cedar Rapids
1 & 2 bedroom apartments and condominiums
643-2,600 square feet
$995-$1,750/month; condos start at $300,000
Located across the street from the McGrath Amphitheater
and overlooking the Cedar River, the Metropolitan
offers a luxury lifestyle for owners and renters alike.
Featuring owner-occupied penthouses on its top
three floors, market-rate lofts below and Class A commercial
space on its ground-floor, this new building from
Hobart Historic Restoration aims to set a new standard
for urban living in the Corridor. Each unit has been built
around an open-floor plan and includes private balconies;
on-site parking is included. Other amenities include
granite countertops, full appliance packages, glass and
tile showers, private floor access, a fitness center and
smart energy and tech features.
“It’s unique, it’s luxurious, and the views from every unit are unbelievable,” said developer B.J.
Hobart. “To my knowledge, there’s no other residential building downtown with these river views.”
Vizzi Media/Iowa Realty
201 S. Linn St., Iowa City
Studio through 3 bedroom units
550-4,300 square feet
Plaza Towers was one of the first developments in Iowa City to
combine a robust mix of commercial tenants with upscale residential
units, all in the center of Iowa City’s Pedestrian Mall.
The building’s first six levels include a luxury hotel, conference
center and banquet facility, restaurant, market and deli, center
for holistic healing and massage therapy, a 6,000-square-foot roof
terrace and a 24-hour health club. The Residences at Plaza Towers
on the floors above serve up light-filled spaces, all with commanding
views and generous private balconies. Tenants enter through a
staffed lobby, with secure underground parking and resident-only
elevator access also available.
There are a few rental units in the building, but the vast majority
are owner-occupied condos, said developer Marc Moen, of Moen
Group. A 1,040-square-foot one bedroom unit is set to come on
the market around $460,000, while a luxurious three-bedroom unit is
currently listed at $1.36 million.
LUREOF THE CITY 11
One University Place
1300 Melrose Ave., University Heights
1-4 bedroom condominiums
981-2,264 square feet
Starting at $315,000
One University Place stands out for its energy-efficient and sustainable condominiums
next to wooded ravines and rolling green space, and its unmatched proximity
to the University of Iowa campus, UI Hospitals and Clinics and Kinnick Stadium.
The two buildings and grounds designed by Neumann Monson Architects
feature striking surroundings, sophisticated finishes and secure underground parking. Set back from Melrose
Avenue by a wide, tree-lined promenade, the recently completed south building’s two upper floors feature
24 condominiums. The building is welcoming its first commercial tenant, Maggie’s Farm Wood-Fired Pizza,
which is set to open May 1.
The five-story north building, scheduled to be complete by December, will have 80 condominiums. Its
concierge services, including shuttle service, will benefit both buildings. Sustainability and comfort has also
been a focus for One University Place’s design, with solar panels, high-end sound insulation and LED lighting.
97 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
Studio & 1 bedroom apartments
600-950 square feet
The historic Smulekoff’s department store building on the banks of the Cedar River is
restored and ready for its next life as the Corridor’s first “microaparment” development.
Featuring 16 efficiency and 16 one-bedroom apartments across two floors, the building
has been tailor-made for young professionals looking to live in the middle of the action.
The apartments feature a variety of fully restored historic elements, including exposed
wood timbers, wood floors and exposed brick on the walls, and many of the units offer
stunning bird’s-eye views of the adjacent Cedar River. Amenities include in-unit washers
and dryers, available indoor parking, and a coffee shop and wine lounge on the ground
floor, making it ideal for those looking to stay close to home.
“I have a lot of people calling me about this one,” said developer Steve Emerson. “You
get some people who want a really big one bedroom, or who want the smaller efficiency
[unit] because it’s looking over the river.”
629 S. Riverside Drive, Iowa City
1-3 bedroom apartments
686-1,462 square feet
As redevelopment brings new amenities to Riverside Drive in Iowa City,
the new Riverview West apartments provide a wide range of affordable
living options with a luxury feel.
Riverview West opened in the fall of 2016, one of the first living
options in the area with rooftop solar power. It was developed by
Riverview West LLC, a partnership of Kevin Hanick and Kineret Zabner.
Mr. Hanick believes the location within walking distance of the
University of Iowa campus will appeal to a range of renters. The location also brings plenty of convenience for socializing and
dining, with a new Bruegger’s Bagel Bakery across Riverside Drive, and a new Kum & Go Marketplace next door.
Apartments include upscale touches, such as quartz countertops, balconies and stainless steel appliances. Among the shared
amenities are a landscaped courtyard with picnic tables, elevators and trash chutes on each floor for convenient waste disposal.
Mr. Hanick said Riverview West plans to utilize its large lobbies with abundant natural light to offer wellness options. Among
those being considered are yoga classes, table tennis tables and exercise equipment.
12 LUREOF THE CITY
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There are numerous urban
residential developments in
various stages of progress
across the Corridor. Here’s a
glimpse of what’s to come.
7 S. Linn St., Iowa City
Studio & 1 bedroom units
300-500 square feet
Pricing not yet available
As its name suggests, the building in downtown Iowa City
known as 7 aims to be both simple and stylish. The seven-story
building will be located just west of the Plaza Tower Condos,
built on the site of the former Van Patten House.
In its place will be approximately 24 studio apartments
with 300 square feet of space, and 12 one-bedroom apartments
with 500 square feet of space, in addition to retail/
office space on the first floor.
The development is largely aimed at young professionals
and graduate students looking for affordable housing downtown,
as well as retirees looking to live a simpler life near the University of Iowa campus. The building
is also expected to be LEED certified, and will include design efforts aimed at minimizing street noise.
The location is just two blocks from Iowa City’s Pedestrian Mall, and falls within walking distance
of no less than three grocers.
“It’s very livable from a walking standpoint, which is one of the unique features that we have with
that location,” architect and developer Kevin Monson said.
1871 & 1895 Ellis Blvd. NW, Cedar Rapids
1-3 bedroom units
1,000-2,000 square feet
Starting at $250,000
Those looking to be close to Cedar Rapids’ core while still
having a little green space might want to consider the
coming Ellis Landings project. Developed by Steve Emerson
and Jim Happel, the four-story building will bring 27
upscale condominiums to the riverfront near Ellis Park, in a
bid to bring residents and businesses back to an area that
was largely depopulated by flood buyouts after 2008.
According to Mr. Happel, the units will be priced in
the $250,000-$380,000 range, with the upper price range
attached to larger, 2,000-square-foot penthouse units that
will include a spiral staircase to a fourth-floor space with
an extra bedroom or study and extra bath. The development
will also include a large atrium and private garages,
and a new restaurant located next door.
Mr. Happel says the river views have already generated
strong interest from prospective buyers. “It’s the nicest
part of the river, definitely,” he said.
14 LUREOF THE CITY
509 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City
2 & 3 bedroom units
1,135-1,428 square feet
Pricing not yet available
The Sabin Townhomes are among the
latest projects scheduled to come online
south of downtown Iowa City, not far from
other pending developments such as
RISE at Riverfront Crossings and the Hilton
The majority of the units will be
two-bedrooms, and all will feature an
upstairs and downstairs component. The
multistory building will also be paired with
a roughly 600-stall parking ramp, which
should be partially obscured by residences
along the facility’s street-facing walls.
Ground-level units of the Sabin Townhomes
will begin at roughly 1,100 square
feet. At the high end of the development,
the largest units will total closer to 1,400
The development’s are scheduled to
be completed in August, with move-ins
beginning this fall.
1201 & 1301 S. Gilbert St., Iowa City
Studios to 2 bedroom units
When the first apartments at The Crossings are
completed next year, the development on
Gilbert Street in Iowa City will provide one of
the first glimpses into the future of the Riverfront
Located just north of Highway 6, the complex
will overlook the planned Riverfront Crossings
Park, which the city plans to connect with
surrounding neighborhoods and trails.
Those amenities were major draws for the
developers behind The Crossings, which will
eventually contain eight residential and mixeduse
buildings. Next year, the development
should finish its first building, located at 1301 S.
Gilbert. That will be mixed-use, with first floor
retail or office space, and second and third
floors each containing up 27 studio apartments.
Although ground hasn’t yet been broken
for the mixed-use buildings, the de facto
centerpiece of the development has already
arrived: Big Grove Brewery opened its brewery
and taproom at the former Iowa Hawk Shop
Outlet warehouse offering both indoor and
outdoor seating, live music, and a slew of
specialty foods and in-house brews.
The first move-ins at The Crossings are
anticipated for summer 2018.
LUREOF THE CITY 15
Business-minded architect taking
on historic renovations and
reviving downtown Cedar Rapids
BY RUTH PAARMANN PHOTO BY SHUVA RAHIM
Steve Emerson stands inside the newly renovated
Smulekoff’s building in downtown Cedar Rapids.
rawing and drafting were among
Steve Emerson’s favorite activities
as a kid.
The Marion native always wanted to be
an architect, so he pursued that dream at
Iowa State University. After graduating and
receiving his architecture certification, he
also saw the value in expanding his skill
set by completing the University of Iowa’s
evening MBA program.
“At ISU, I was so goal-oriented. The other
architecture students were super artistic.
I was detailed and thorough, but not so
strong on the design flair,” Mr. Emerson
said. “My strength is the business end – the
practicality side. I do rigid, fast deadlines
well. We hit them and make sure things are
A shrewd business sense has earned
Mr. Emerson a place as one of the primary
property owners in downtown Cedar
Rapids. His 11-year-old firm, Aspect
architecture:design, employs more than 30
people, with 20 in construction. In addition
to providing architecture services, the company
maintains 30 properties.
Around 1999, Mr. Emerson began
buying one property at a time, performing
much of the demolition and construction
work himself. Family and friends pitched
in, and Mr. Emerson secured tenants.
“It was a fun hobby on the side,” he said.
“I found buildings that had been on the
market for a while, and I negotiated super
hard on price. I had the ability to walk away.
If I bought a building under contract, I used
that time to find tenants.”
That formula paid dividends, allowing
him to establish cash flow. It also gave him
“I get a lot of business because of my
construction background. I look at life cycle
costs, durability, efficiency, use of space,” he
said. “I think of how the owner can repurpose
the building when they move on.”
Restoring Property Health
Many structures Mr. Emerson refurbishes
are vacant, but even occupied buildings
have issues. The Town Centre office
building was such a case, with the previous
owners in bankruptcy. Mr. Emerson
bought it specifically to make it healthy
again, making sure tenants had someone to
communicate with about leases and other
concerns. (He has since sold his stake.)
In a much more demanding project, he
stripped the Paramount office building
down to the concrete and > PAGE 38
16 LUREOF THE CITY
After 87 years of serving thousands of Eastern Iowans we understand one thing very well.
turn houses into
CSB is family owned and community-focused.
If you are buying a new home, refinancing your
existing home, or want to use your home equity
to make some improvements, you should meet our people.
Call our Corridor Residential Real Estate expert
Andrea Kuhn at (319)202-4277, or e-mail
her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
She’s good people. Just like you.
Coralville - Iowa City - Cedar Rapids - Walford - Elkader - Marquette - McGregor
LUREOF THE CITY 17
HIGH DESIGN SPACES
Cedar Rapids professional
relocates to lively NewBo neighborhood
BY RUTH PAARMANN PHOTOS BY BRIAN DRAEGER
When the Row Houses on Second were
announced in the NewBo neighborhood
in southeast Cedar Rapids, George Hanna
was the first to buy. For two years, Dr. Hanna,
a dentist had been seeking a smaller
alternative to his 6,000-square-foot home
in Swisher. The three-bedroom townhome
offered the right size for his lifestyle. >
Sleek, comfortable and functional, this Cedar Rapids row
home checks all the boxes for George Hanna’s goal to
downsize his home while enriching his life.
TOP: Dr. Hanna sourced Poggenpohl cabinets and unique,
smart appliances for his kitchen. BOTTOM: While most of
the home features a deep gray color scheme, these glass
stairs add a touch of color with bold LED lighting.
LUREOF THE CITY 19
“The house was just too big for an empty nester,”
he said. “I was so ready to move.”
Dr. Hanna embraced the opportunity to be part
of the growing NewBo area, with its biking trails,
the YMCA and nearby live music jams. He was
intent on choosing a large, bright unit with views
of the park-like area between Second and Third
streets. He also liked the townhome approach.
“At other condos, I’d park below and have to
go up an elevator, and they felt like apartments.
I wanted something that felt more like a home,”
he said. “I also liked the idea that I could do some
Having lived 15-20 minutes from restaurants
and supermarkets, Dr. Hanna also appreciated the
location’s proximity to dining options.
“I always had this vision of walking to restaurants,”
he said. “I love being able to walk to meet
my neighbors and friends for drinks and dinner.”
TOP: The home’s streamlined design and color scheme is the
perfect backdrop for beautiful artwork. TOP RIGHT: The relaxed
living room features a TV hidden behind an art canvas. Dr.
Hanna can scroll up the artwork using a remote control.
BOTTOM: Included in the smart home system, the mesmerizing
electric fireplace adds color and interest to the space.
Smart & Secure
The ease of maintenance means few worries. To
ensure all is operating properly, no matter where
he is, Dr. Hanna chose a Control4 smart home
system from Reference in Coralville.
“The system controls the sound, TV, window
blinds, security, temperature and lights,” he said.
“It even has a setting to track my activities for a
week so that info can be used to make the place
look occupied when I’m gone.”
When he leaves or arrives at home, he presses
a button to control the temperature, lighting and
more. He uses an app to control settings while
he’s away or in bed. The system also controls >
20 LUREOF THE CITY
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LUREOF THE CITY 21
TOP: Comfortable furnishings provide a
continuity of style throughout the master
suite. ABOVE: An alcohol-based fireplace
hangs in the corner of the master suite.
RIGHT: The powder room on the mezzanine
pops with a modern stone sink and pedestal.
22 LUREOF THE CITY
the electric fireplace in the living room and the lighted
stairs that lead to the mezzanine level kitchen.
The units are built to withstand flooding, which they
did seamlessly in September 2016. Dr. Hanna explained
that the front door is at the 26-foot flood level, and the
footings and garage are extra thick. Even though he had to
relocate for a week, he was thrilled that his home didn’t
take on a single drop of water when the Cedar River
reached its second-highest crest in the city’s history.
Warmth & Depth
When it comes to style, Dr. Hanna wanted to maintain a
sleek, yet warm space. A backdrop of grays and blacks
receives pops of colorful art and plenty of texture.
Dr. Hanna chose a few key pieces and worked with
Jeff O’Brien of Focal Point Interiors to complete the look.
First, Dr. Hanna chose Poggenpohl black lacquer cabinetry,
which he found in Chicago along with light fixtures.
“Jeff did the interior design for my previous home in
Swisher, so he knew my tastes and knew what furniture
I had,” he said.
Mr. O’Brien helped him replace some oversized
furnishings and chose flooring, tile, wallpaper, paint and
fabrics to coordinate with the color scheme.
“This space feels really warm and cozy,” Mr. O’Brien
said. “It’s partly the depth of the color – the lights and
darks. There’s enough warmth to the gray that it doesn’t
give you that cold feeling.”
The kitchen features everything a cook needs and
more, including a built-in espresso and coffeemaker.
Flip-up cabinets offer dimension and texture over the
polished tile backsplash and quartz countertops. A
cleverly updated lazy Susan makes the most of a corner
cabinet. Dr. Hanna enjoys cooking in the space, taking
advantage of the delivered meals-in-a-box to save time
The one space that Dr. Hanna modified from the original
plan was the master suite. He had the floor plan
changed to allow for a tiled shower. Sliding doors separate
the bath and bedroom. He also found a ventless
hanging fireplace for the corner.
A guest bath and two bedrooms round out the third
level. One bedroom is a dedicated guest suite, while the
other serves several purposes. To make the space multifunctional,
Dr. Hanna ordered an ingenious wall bed system
from Resource Furnishings. It came complete with
modular shelves and a desk that dives effortlessly under
the bed as it descends from the wall. (See page 27.)
“It came in 55 boxes,” he said. “It probably took me
200 hours to put it all together.”
The flexibility of the room is worth it, as his two sons,
both in their 20s, can have their own rooms when they
visit, while Dr. Hanna has a functional office and workout
room the rest of the time.
He could not be happier with his space or choice of
“I love this area,” he said. |
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LUREOF THE CITY 23
HIGH DESIGN SPACES
Retreat with a View
Iowa couple finds a fresh retreat in Park@201
BY RUTH PAARMANN PHOTOS BY BRIAN DRAEGER
Sometimes, a small space with
incredible views is all you need.
Just ask Kathy and David Gimer.
Their condo in Park@201, in the
beating heart of Iowa City,
brings them more enjoyment
than they ever expected. >
An open concept provides the perfect backdrop
for stylish and comfortable furnishings and rugs.
David and Kathy Gimer.
LEFT: Kathy Gimer
ensured that reading
nooks were available
in the unit and on
the balcony. RIGHT:
Windows and natural
light are key features
of every home in
Park@201. BELOW: A
pop of fresh apple
green lights up a
The Gimers’ unit
sunset views from the
unit and its balcony.
26 LUREOF THE CITY
“In 2013, we talked about investing in real estate somewhere
– either down south or out west,” said David, who
has a dental practice in Iowa Falls and also serves as an
adjunct instructor at the University of Iowa College of
“Through conversation with friends and peers, we
found out about a new development in downtown Iowa
City. We met with the developer, Marc Moen, to discuss
Park@201, and it sounded like a good investment opportunity.
It represented a place that we could use rather than
one that was far away.”
Dr. Gimer teaches once a week at the dental school, so
their unit serves as a landing pad for work and play. The
couple met during dental school, and their kids now have
families of their own. As lifelong Hawkeye fans, they hold
season tickets to football and basketball games. Dr. Gimer
also attends wrestling matches and baseball games.
“It enables us to come and go freely, depending on my
work schedule and what university events might be taking
place. If we want to do something with friends, we can stay
over and do that,” he said.
Their Iowa City home bears a contrast to their home base
in Iowa Falls, which they built in 1995. In Iowa Falls, they
have 2.5 acres and an open, yet woodsy, setting for their
home, which offers 1,800 square feet on the main level. In
Iowa City, they embrace a hotel suite-feel several stories
up, with modern industrial overtones and an entire wall >
CH I HULY
FROM THE GEORGE R. STROEMPLE COLLECTION
The Story of Sokol
June 3 – December 31, 2017
APRIL 29 - OCTOBER 1, 2017
NCSML.org • 319-362-8500
1400 Inspiration Place SW • Cedar Rapids, IA
LUREOF THE CITY 27
TOP: The master suite opens
directly to the balcony. ABOVE:
A glass shower enclosure shows
off a beautiful tile shower.
of windows in the living room.
“It’s a place we use as a retreat from the week. We love to
come to Iowa City and just relax,” Mrs. Gimer said.
To achieve a fresh feel, they painted one wall a shade
of green apple and added wallpaper in the bedroom for
texture and warmth. Mrs. Gimer worked with Luxe Interiors
in Coralville to furnish it with clean-lined chairs, glass tables
and comfy rugs.
The appliances, cabinetry and window treatments were
preselected, but the couple loved the choices. They made
one upgrade – to Corian countertops, which are easy to care
for and look perfect in the unit’s modern setting.
In January, the couple started their third year in
Park@201. The couple each cite different favorite aspects of
“I like the vibrancy of the Ped Mall. It wasn’t there when
we were in dental school,” Mrs. Gimer said. “I’ve also been
really surprised when we take walks around the campus. I
really enjoy exploring around the Union and river. We find
places we’ve never seen.”
“For me, I really enjoy the view,” Dr. Gimer said. “The ability
to look out over downtown and the Ped Mall is relaxing.
We’ve been watching the construction of the College of Music
and the hotel being built to the east of it. The constant activity
in the downtown area is great. It’s upbeat and progressive.”
A balcony allows them to spend time outside, usually in
the evening in the fall. Mrs. Gimer also likes to read there
during pleasant spring days.
As part-time residents, they appreciate how easy to is to
come and go. They credit Mr. Moen for being readily available
as a property manager.
“We’re landlords at home ourselves, so we appreciate
how helpful he has been with questions and if we need him
to check on things,” Dr. Gimer said. “We feel very rewarded.
We think it turned out to be a good decision. And we’re
proud to have invested in downtown Iowa City.” |
28 LUREOF THE CITY
here’s an ‘odd couple’ dynamic
between developers Blaine Thomas
and Randy Miller that could very
well be the secret ingredient in the success
of their development, 808 on Fifth.
Located in the heart of Coralville, just
north of the busy Coralville Strip and a few
blocks down from the city’s Center for the
Performing Arts, 808 on Fifth has grown
steadily since its first building opened in
2015, expanding to two buildings along
leafy Fifth Street, with two more under
construction and a fifth being planned.
There is now a waiting list for the
development’s 200-plus apartment units,
and its 40,000 square feet of retail space
has filled up quickly with Mr. Thomas’
friends and associates – each one of them
seemingly drawn by his magnetic presence,
frenetic pace, and vision of creating
a high-end yet welcoming development in
the heart of the city.
“I would like to call this a development
for everybody,” Mr. Thomas said over coffee
at Tip Top Cakes, one of the first commercial
tenants at 808. “We talk about price
points on menus before people come in.
We talk about the cost of a haircut. Is it
affordable to the masses?”
The development is now home to a
diverse cast of small businesses, including
a florist, a salon, a gym, a chiropractor and
realty offices. Each one has been recruited
and selected by Mr. Thomas for their
appeal and ability to complement the
growing Fifth Street corridor.
“If the commercial businesses in this
development don’t serve the community
and the residents upstairs, they aren’t coming,”
Indeed, Mr. Thomas prides himself on
his hands-on nature, saying that he knows
“every single person who moves in the
building,” and proving it in conversations
with tenants, during which he floats effortlessly
between questions about family to
furniture arrangements. He has set a high
bar for 808 on Fifth and expects a lot of its
businesses, but also works to ensure their
success, whether by helping with buildouts
or offering regular – often unvarnished
“We argued about everything in [Tip
Top Cakes] to make it the best it can be,” he
recalled. “Stuff like the sign being crooked
or tape on the windows, that just drives me
nuts. And I don’t own the business, but I
want it to be the best it can be.” > PAGE 38
and Randy Miller
Coralville’s dynamic duo brings an urban
mindset to the center of the city
BY ADAM MOORE PHOTO BY SHUVA RAHIM
Blaine Thomas (left) and Randy Miller
stand outside their offices at 808 on Fifth.
LUREOF THE CITY 29
Mott Lofts: Where Past & Present Meet
BY RUTH PAARMANN PHOTOS BY BRIAN DRAEGER
Back in 1902, the Iowa
Wind Mill & Pump Co.
made and housed its
wares in several facilities
on the west bank of
the Cedar River. One
structure remains: the
main brick building, which
was labeled “Mott Inc.”
in the 1990s. In 2012, the
building was placed on
the National Register of
The previous owner, Linn County, used it for storage and
debated using the land for other purposes following the
flood of 2008. But the county decided to sell, and Hobart
Historic Restoration saw the value in the sturdy structure.
“My husband and I always liked the building, especially
the setting on the river. We admired it for years before the
opportunity came along to work on it,” said owner and
project manager B.J. Hobart.
The company made plans to convert it to a mixed-use
building, completing its residential apartment units in
2016. According to Casey Dunagan, property manager, all
units were occupied by July.
“Several of our residents work at Rockwell or Transamerica,
and some of them travel a lot,” said Mr. Dunagan.
He noted that many of them relocated to Cedar Rapids
from out of state, and most are young professionals in
their 20s and 30s.
The apartments feature similar layouts with wood-look
flooring, stone counters and open floor plans. Most units
offer one bedroom, while four are two-bedroom units.
Residents must agree to respect the brick walls and beams
that add historic character and value to the building, Mr.
The lobby features exposed beams, pulleys and photos
of the building. Residents can use the elevator, but many
opt for the rustic restored staircase.
While the building stands close to a number of downtown
gyms, a workout room was added in the basement for
residents. Hobart also occupied a space for its maintenance
shop to easily access the mowers, snow blowers and other
equipment required to keep the property tidy.
Outside, with its refreshed white lettering, the building
is a prominent landmark on the river’s west bank. The
brick structure was cleaned and tuck-pointed to secure the
exterior. New custom double-hung wood windows took the
place of old ones, but screens could not be > PAGE 39
30 LUREOF THE CITY
business make the right
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We’re such an innovative, energetic group, people don’t
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A typical one-bedroom unit in Mott Lofts
provides an open concept kitchen and
living area. Brick walls and original ceiling
joists provide historic charm.
The building’s original staircase has been
preserved for the use of tenants.
CIVIL ENGINEERING · LAND DEVELOPMENT PLANNING · LAND SURVEYS · LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE · WATER MANAGEMENT
LUREOF THE CITY 31
The Look of the City
Keep up with the latest in urban design. Corridor designers
offer their expertise on what’s hot for your home.
Alex Von Ahsen, Phelan’s
Lamps to ceiling fixtures are being influenced by
the industrial look. In lamps, it’s industrial meets
glam, with natural elements such as marble and
agate mixed with brushed metal or acrylic. Mixed
metals – brushed brass, gold and copper – or
those metals mixed with black are also popular.
TEXTILES Chris Gnade, Design Ranch
Woven vinyl textiles give designers freedom to bring character to any interior, and in unexpected
ways. Available in a range of weaves, they can add color, texture and even coordinate vertical
surfaces with upholstery and floor coverings. Today’s textiles are durable and easy to clean and
install. Chilewich wall coverings, shown here, are also environmentally sustainable products.
32 LUREOF THE CITY
Thinking about BUYING or
SELLING a HOME? Call me!
Brad Oppedahl, REALTOR ®
Your home, my expertise!
411 1st Avenue SE Cedar Rapids IA 52401 • Licensed to sell in the state of Iowa
Lori Wiles, Lori Wiles Design
Stone can create a huge architectural
impact in a cost effective way. The
Corridor offers excellent stone resources,
and very light stone has recently become
available in a variety of designs, making
it easier than ever to incorporate in an
interior design. We love to use it to make
a statement in both traditional and
Interiors Gifts Lifestyle
LUREOF THE CITY 33
Devonna Wood, Cabinet Studio Inc.
White and gray painted cabinets still dominate
kitchen trends, while dark blue has become popular
as an accent color for kitchen islands. Textured
white oak and horizontal walnut have also grown
in popularity. Custom hoods in wood, stainless steel
and other metals, and backsplashes in slabs of
stone and large tiles provide dramatic focal points.
Alex Von Ahsen, Phelan’s
The preference continues for
wood flooring in neutral gray
stains, wide planks and a range
of clean to distressed surfaces.
The introduction of Luxury
Vinyl Tile (LVT) has brought a
product for use in commercial
and residential spaces.
34 LUREOF THE CITY
Randy Miller is honored
to have represented the
following area projects
808 on 5th
Mixed-Use Redevelopment in Coralville
Big Grove Brewery
Riverfront Crossings in Iowa City
at Riverfront Crossings
Mixed-Use Redevelopment in Iowa City
250 12th avenue suite 100 · coralville, iowa
Randy Miller, BROKER/OWNER
This could be your view every day!
The Metropolitan is conveniently located across the street from
the McGrath Amphitheater/downtown. The luxury apartments are
spacious and have an open floor plan with private balconies. All
rentals have river views and parking on-site included.
LUREOF THE CITY 35
A national expert in minimalism
offers tips for getting back to basics
Rightsizing for the Next Chapter
BY CINDY HADISH
strategic plan can
apply to lifestyle
choices as well.
Baby boomers, born between 1946-1964, are heading into retirement at a rate of
about 10,000 per day, with an increasing number of them moving from spacious
homes in the suburbs to more compact homes in the city.
Retirement or not, anyone debating a move could benefit from rightsizing their
material footprint, by cutting through clutter and reorganizing their possessions.
During a recent Professional Women’s Network event at the Cedar Rapids
Marriott, Joshua Becker, founder of “Becoming Minimalist,” offered some strategies
for living more simply that apply to all stages of life.
Mr. Becker, author of “Clutterfree with Kids” and other best-sellers, is one of the
leading voices of following a minimalist lifestyle with fewer possessions.
“Simplicity brings balance, freedom and joy,” he writes on his blog. “When we
begin to live simply and experience these benefits, we begin to ask the next question,
‘Where else in my life can I remove distraction and simply focus on the essential?’”
Some tips from Mr. Becker’s talk that can help in the rightsizing process:
n Determine what you value and need in your life. Essential needs may
vary greatly depending on that determination. Someone who plans to travel
extensively, for example, would need different possessions compared to a
person who has several pets or wants to stay at home to garden. “Ask yourself,
‘what do I want my life to be about?’” Mr. Becker said. “It’s about value: what
things do you need in order to do that.”
n Start on the easiest, most lived-in areas. Mr. Becker began with his car;
removing everything and saving only those things that were important, such as
a pair of sunglasses and the vehicle manual.
n Move room to room. Begin with the place in your home that already is the
most organized, saving closets, the basement and garage, where clutter tends
to accumulate, for last.
n Focus on your own possessions. “It’s always easier to see someone else’s
junk,” Mr. Becker said. “But you can’t start throwing out your spouse’s stuff or
your kids’ stuff first.”
n Stay on top of paper clutter by digitizing documents and photos.
Unsubscribe to junk mail and handle the mail on a daily basis, immediately
recycling what can be tossed and saving other items into a folder to be
reviewed on a weekly basis.
n Match cups, bowls, plates and silverware for better uniformity in stacking
and storing. Donate those items that don’t match. If there is one souvenir cup
or mug that is so important you can’t live without it, that’s perfectly fine. Just
don’t keep five of them.
n Get rid of guilt by donating to places that can benefit by reselling
your items, including the Salvation Army and Goodwill, and look for other
organizations that could use the items, as well, such as giving pots and pans and
blankets to a refugee resettlement group and clothing to women’s shelters. |
36 LUREOF THE CITY
Other tips to
help with a
If it’s chipped, broken or
stained, toss it. Charities
don’t want nonworking
snagged clothes, lidless
plastic Tupperware or
any items they can’t sell.
Consider bringing in
the pros. Hire someone
to hold an estate sale
if you have a large
number of items, such as
furniture and dishware,
that you’d like to sell.
Don’t be shy about
items. Not worth
moving, donating, or
even conferring about:
old spices, junk mail, old
toiletries, plastic food
stuffed toys (most
charities won’t accept
them) and the contents
of the junk drawer (just
hang onto change and
If there are several
items of high value,
consider an appraisal.
Go through the entire
house; the appraiser
will only come out once
and is more interested
in relatively large lots.
Auction houses, whose
goal is to sell items at
the best price, are
better options than
antique dealers, whose
goal is to get items for
the lowest price.
If an item is meant to be
a gift or legacy, plan to
give it now, rather than
moving or storing it.
Innovative, space-saving furnishings can be a huge help in right
sizing. Dr. George Hanna found this modular wall bed system
through Resource Furnishings. The bed folds down, tucking the desk
away. Shelving is part of the system, providing a cohesive look.
LUREOF THE CITY 37
EMERSON FROM PAGE 16
rebuilt the office space from scratch in order to restore an architectural
gem to the city.
Although historic preservation can be daunting, the state’s
housing credits and historic tax credit program help make the
“I focus on downtown because it is such an important region for
the city,” he said. “Plus, if I can take a crappy building and make it
new and fresh again, it improves all of downtown. It has inherent
benefits to the rest of my buildings and to downtown.”
Changing With the Times
Other obstacles he has encountered during his career include the
changes in the banking industry and a struggle toward work-life
balance. While he used to work day and night with his job as an
architect and do the demolition on the side, he has become a better
delegator, entrusting employees to keep him in check.
“In the office and construction areas, I empower people extremely
well so they buy into the project,” he said. “It saves me time.”
Technology has also enabled him to have a more flexible work
schedule, working from home in the mornings and evenings as
needed, or even answering questions while on vacation.
As of February, Mr. Emerson is working on seven projects that
will result in approximately 147 residential units. These vary from
32 efficiency and one-bedroom apartments in the Smulekoff’s
building to new and historic townhomes in Kingston Pointe, the
old ESC building, 323 Third St. and other developments.
Mr. Emerson is excited about the way Smulekoff’s is evolving
into a mixed-use development. He’s also exploring an innovative
solar/green roof combination on this and two other buildings.
While he prefers living near Center Point with his wife and two
children on an acreage with woods and a pond, he appreciates the
“The people who want to live downtown aren’t just people who
work here,” he said, noting that a cross section of older and younger
couples and professionals live in his buildings. “You can park
your car and you don’t need to drive on weekends.” |
Inside Tip Top Cakes, one of
808 on Fifth’s first commercial
tenants, and a popular
meeting place for Mr. Thomas.
808 FROM PAGE 29
It’s that energy and dedication to detail that drew in Randy Miller,
owner of Miller Monument and a longtime real estate investor
and broker. Mr. Miller was introduced to Mr. Thomas by a mutual
friend, and began doing some consulting work on the earliest
stages of 808. Despite Mr. Miller’s preference against partnering
on projects and the prospect of an early retirement on the horizon,
the two hit it off and struck a partnership that continues to grow,
just like their development.
Mr. Miller, for his part, compared their partnership to TV’s “Odd
Couple.” He serves as the opposing force to Mr. Thomas’ big dreams
and boundless energy, preferring to work in the background and
crunch numbers while Mr. Thomas does the gladhanding.
“I’m 58 now, and I have a lot of patience,” Mr. Miller said of his partner.
“I’m not sure how we would have done back when I was 30.”
“Blaine likes to take an idea and run with it, and sometimes you
can’t – you have to think about it,” he added. “But then again, that’s
why the two of us get along so well. I’d be sluggish without him.”
Mr. Thomas, 40, affectionately describes his partner as “the”
leash that keeps him from chasing the next thing to flutter in front
of his face, as well as his cheerleader, keeping him grounded in the
realities of large-scale development.
“When I’m talking about the numbers, the performance, the
contractors, the timelines, the interest rates … who do I call? Randy,”
he said. “Instead of [my] going and jumping off the Iowa River
bridge, he pulls me back.”
While Mr. Miller originally set a time limit on their partnership,
pledging to retire after five years of work on 808, that now looks
like a casualty of Mr. Thomas’ expanding vision. Plans are moving
forward for the fifth building, which will be “loaded with commercial
space,” according to Mr. Thomas, and the partners are working
with the city to purchase three properties on 10th Avenue for
future residential development. Mr. Miller also has his own plans
in action, as the developer behind The Crossings development in
Iowa City (see page 15).
If Mr. Thomas has his way, 808 on Fifth will evolve into a central
piece of Coralville’s emerging downtown, connecting the Plaza
on Fifth building, the Watts Group’s Old Town development and
reshaping 10th Avenue down to the strip.
“I have to continue the mantra of a pedestrian development.
This is downtown,” he said. “Is it going to keep going down Fifth
Street? Of course it is. Is it going to go to the north? Of course. It’s
just a matter of time.” |
38 LUREOF THE CITY
Let us make your
Residential Interior Design
A spacious lobby greets guests and residential and
office tenants. It features historic pulleys and wood
beams original to the Wind Mill & Pump Co. building.
MOTTS LOFTS FROM PAGE 31
used because the original windows had none.
Functional additions include a parking lot and water retention
basin, which is required in order to preserve water quality. In
addition, a short black iron fence was added to deter geese that
would walk up the banks of the Cedar River.
Per Hobart’s original plans for the building, commercial leases
are taking off in the lower level and main floor. Synergy Massage
opened a studio in the lower level before the flood of 2016. Several
businesses are on the docket for the rest of the available space
on the main floor. An artisan jeweler plans a workshop there, and
other professional services companies have expressed interest
in the space. A yoga studio will occupy a bright, open space on
the east side of the building, where the original, ornate safe door
remains in place.
The build-out for four businesses began in February, and most of
the businesses are expected to occupy their new spaces this year. |
Plaza on Fifth
1310 Highland Court, Iowa City
LUREOF THE CITY 39