After nearly six years, a Cedar Rapids landmark is reopening after sustaining heavy damage during the Flood of 2008. The Veteran’s Memorial Building on Mays Island was once a central part of Cedar Rapids public life. The eight story building, topped with a gold-plated eternal flame sculpture, housed the city government, a memorial museum, and an auditorium for large events.
Mike Jager, executive director of the Veteran’s Memorial Commission, says bringing the building back to life has been a $22-million endeavor. “I was actually the first person back in the building after the flood,” Jager said. “We were in Tyvec suits and masks and you could only be in (the building) for 30 minutes at a time.”
Difficulties securing federal disaster assistance funds delayed construction on the Veteran’s Memorial Building until 2012. “We’ve got a museum gallery and we have outside tenants who are leasing office space,” Jager said. “Now we’re getting into some of the larger areas that are finished and will be available for public events, larger types of concerts, and sporting events.”
The Veteran’s building will also have room to expand the services it can offer to veterans who visit, according to Jager. Cedar Rapids City Hall and all the city offices have moved to a nearby building.