The City of Cedar Rapids has purchased a 30-acre tract of land where the long-closed Farmstead Foods meatpacking plant was located.
City officials announced the four-million dollar deal Friday morning. Two million came from the city. The other two million came from a private foundation in Cedar Rapids.
Cedar Rapids City Councilman Brian Fagen says it’s fair to call the site an eye-sore. “But there are businesses operating out there right now,” Fagan says. “From the community’s perspective, it’s time to create some opportunity with that property in the core of our community.”
The Farmstead plant itself closed in 1990, but a storage company and a few small businesses are still operating there. “They will be relocated in the future or their leases will expire,” according to Fagen. “It is a commercial/industrial facility that will need substantial environmental remediation in the future.”
Fagen says plans for the site, once it’s cleaned up, are undetermined. Fagen says the potential is “wide open” and he doesn’t want to get into what his view is, or what possibilities others may be considering. The property lies along the Cedar River a little less than a mile from downtown Cedar Rapids. “It is in the core of the historic, industrial, arts and entertainment neighborhood districts that, really, we’re focusing on — along with downtown — to really make an impact for the community and its residents and our employers,” Fagen says.
In 1870, T.M. Sinclair started a meatpacking company in downtown Cedar Rapids and moved the plant to its current site in 1871. Sinclair ran into financial problems in 1913 and sold the company. It was later resold and assumed the Wilson and Company name which it carried until 1984 when it was acquired by Farmstead. The packing house was closed completely in 1990, but the building has been partially occupied for the past 16 years by a few small businesses.