|Mound View neighborhood as seen from Clark Field at Coe College|
|The Tic Toc, 17th St and E Av: once a renowned neighborhood gathering place,|
awaits a new life in better times
|Oakland Road approaching G Av. Mound View's streets are an interesting mix of residential,|
commercial and light-industrial uses
|Grant Wood lived on 14th St early in the 20th century|
Daniels Park splash pad 5 minutes
Dick's Tap and Shake 5 minutes
Dairy Queen 6 minutes
J.M. O'Malley's 6 minutes
Garfield Elementary School 8 minutes
Hennessey Recreation Center at Mount Mercy 11 minutes
Clark Racquet Center at Coe College 12 minutes
Franklin Field 12 minutes
Hy-Vee (supermarket) 13 minutes
Regis Middle School 16 minutes
Franklin Middle School 16 minutes
McLeod Run Trail Park 17 minutes
Brewed Awakenings Coffeehouse 19 minutes
Cedar Lake 21 minutes
Brucemore National Historic Site 25 minutes
Shaver Park (disc golf course) 28 minutes
U.S. Cellular Center 33 minutes
Cedar Rapids Public Library 36 minutes
City of Cedar Rapids 37 minutes
As was the case in a lot of core urban neighborhoods, the last part of the 20th century was not kind to Mound View. Center Point and Oakland Roads were re-designed as one-way, multi-lane throughways. A lot of the factories closed or downsized, as did many of the small stores. (The last grocery store in the area, Hy-Vee, was saved from closing by a $1 million renovation grant from the City of Cedar Rapids in 2000.)
A lot of new construction along 1st and A Avenues used suburban-style large parking lots separating the buildings from the street. As industrial jobs disappeared, people left the area, and what had been single-family housing became vacant or was converted to short-term rentals. Coe College bought and knocked down a couple blocks' worth of housing in the middle of the last decade in preparation for an anticipated expansion. Polk School, which began to experiment with a "year-round" schedule in the late 1990s, was closed and converted to an alternative education center about ten years later.
|Polk's playgrounds and basketball courts remain important neighborhood resources|
Future 1: Deterioration of assets. Cedar Rapids is not New York or San Francisco. Regional land prices are low, and there are no mountains or oceans to block physical expansion. Construction of the Highway 100 extension has just opened up many acres at the edge of the city for development. As long as energy prices remain low, there may not be the incentives for private investors in older areas of the city. The remarkable emergence of New Bohemia since 2008 is inspiring to the other core neighborhoods, but probably not specifically replicable. The colleges have heavily invested in their campuses, but neither is flush enough to fund neighborhood development, nor is the city. The school district's radical proposal to close all existing elementary schools and build new ones means their investment in this area is likely to decrease rather than increase. In the absence of private investment, existing long-term homeowners will continue to hold on, but they won't live forever, and "generational replacement" (social science euphemism) would likely bring dramatic disinvestment to this area within 25 years.
Future 2: Gentrification with displacement. On the other hand, it's possible that developers will see a potential market in upscale housing here: college or MedQuarter employees, or fitness enthusiasts attracted to the trails and college-based facilities. Mound View could see a surge in condo construction such as New Bohemia and Kingston Village have experienced, and/or new home construction replacing "tear-downs." An increase in property values would be welcome, and a fair amount of housing stock certainly is dilapitated, but would likely price many existing homeowners and renters out of the area. Peter Moskowitz's recent How to Kill a City (Public Affairs Press, 2017) provides some particularly egregious examples from other parts of the country of government's use of incentives and condemnations in ways that facilitate displacement.
For this reason, I take a strong stand against rebranding Mound View as the College District. I know the colleges are substantial assets just waiting for the neighborhood to leverage them. But rebranding shows lack of respect, not only for the neighborhood's history, but for long-term residents as well.
Future 3: Gentrification, gently. The best outcome for Mound View will result from investment that improves the neighborhood while allowing it to remain true to its current assets including its people. The city has begun addressing obstacles to walkability: adding bike lanes to key streets, improving trails and, in the next couple years converting Oakland and Center Point Roads back to two-way albeit only above H Avenue. I'd like to see improved connection to Cedar Lake, either by making H Avenue less dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians where it meets the interstate, or better yet by punching through a connection around E Avenue. The strange intersection north of Coe College could be improved as well, slowing cars but accommodating multiple directions, while improving connection through Coe College to the MedQuarter and downtown with a sidewalk along Coe Road.
|Center Point Road was blocked in the late 1960s;|
the two segments are one-way streets, in opposite directions
|What it looks like on a map|
THANKS to Imagine Mound View sponsors:
Dick's Tap and Shake Room
Mount Mercy University
Valenta Plumbing and Heating
For earlier posts on the theme of gentrification, click on the link under "labels" in the right column.
City Data report on Mound View.
SEE ALSO: Phillip Platz, "Urbanism Advocacy Group Stages Festival in Cedar Rapids' 'Next New Bo'," Corridor Urbanism, 25 August 2017