Cedar Rapids, Spencer and Williamsburg will share $2.3 million in Community Attraction and Tourism grants awarded by the Vision Iowa Board Wednesday. Vision Iowa spokesperson Jessica O’Riley says the project in Cedar Rapids is the first opportunity for the board to assist in flood recovery.
The group Theatre Cedar Rapids will receive $1.5 million to renovate the Iowa Theatre Building downtown. "It’s a project the board was very thrilled to help out," O’Riley said. "(Board members) think getting the theatre back to downtown Cedar Rapids will spur restaurants to return and the community as well."
The Iowa Theatre Building originally opened in 1928 as a vaudeville and movie house. It closed in 1980 before becoming home to the Cedar Rapids Community Theatre. The building was damaged in last year’s floods. "Some of the tenants that were next door have not returned, so they’re going to expand out that direction to return the lobby to its original splendor and just have more of a presence along the street," O’Riley said. The entire project cost is $7.4 million.
Theatre Cedar Rapids officials plan to be back in the Iowa Theatre Building with the musical The Producers in February 2010. The Vision Iowa Board awarded $200,000 to another theatre renovation project in Spencer. O’Riley says it’s an expansion project, which will add more than 7,400 square feet to the Spencer Community Theatre. The entire project cost is just over 1.4 million dollars.
"They’re literally raising the roof on this project to get better stage lighting and scenery," O’Riley said. "They’re going to expand the seating a little bit for better sight lines…just an overall better experience for theatre goers." A $600,000 dollar award will help further plans for a new public library in the eastern Iowa town of Williamsburg.
The award is contingent on organizers obtaining the "silver level" of Leadership in Energy Efficiency Design – or LEED – certification. O’Riley says LEED is basically a checklist for "green" design. "It could be geothermal heating or energy efficient windows, there’s a whole bunch of those," O’Riley explained.
"Then, LEED has certain levels – basic, silver, gold, platinum – they go up depending on the amount of those that you incorporate into your project." The new library on the downtown square in Williamsburg has a total project cost of just over four-million dollars.