Why mixed-use buildings are becoming popular

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August 31, 2017

It’s changed the face of central Cedar Rapids, driving post-flood development in the New Bohemia and Kingston neighborhoods with new and reclaimed properties. In Iowa City, its backers see it as a way to downtown vitality.

“From a community’s point of view, you get a more broad-based neighborhood,” said B.J. Hobart, managing member and co-owner of Hobart Historic Restoration of Cedar Rapids.

The suburban single-family home isn’t going away, but so-called mixed-use projects incorporating residential and retail, commercial and sometimes even light-industrial spaces in the same or adjoining buildings offer different options to residential and business tenants. In some places — think dense urban neighborhoods and small-town main streets with apartments above ground-floor retail shops — mixed-use patterns never went away.

Mixed-use is especially appropriate in Iowa City’s central neighborhoods, said Marc Moen, whose Moen Group is developing the Chauncey, a 15-story building at College and Gilbert streets. Set to open in 2019, the building will include 50 condominiums, two movie theaters, a hotel, a 12-lane bowling alley and office space.

“It is about providing the services and entertainment that will attract permanent residents downtown,” Moen wrote in an email. “The residential units actually go a long way to allow us to develop uses that are not able to pay high rents.”

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