A new parking garage is under construction at a very visible corner in downtown Cedar Rapids. United Fire & Casualty Co. is building a new three story ramp on a company-owned surface lot adjacent to its building on Second Avenue SE. The new parkade will front 2nd Ave and 1st Street SE. The design by Solum Lang Architects of Cedar Rapids, is extremely plain as seen in the rendering below.

I am normally not a fan of additional parking structures in downtown – which the business community and general public seems to laud as necessary for the success of downtown. I think better parking management and people being willing to walk one or two blocks from the car (not to mention alternative transportation) would solve any perceived parking problem there is in downtown. However, since this is a privately funded and owned structure, being constructed on a relatively small site that otherwise would likely remain an open parking lot for years, I do not have that much issue with it. I would argue it should at least have ground level retail space to contribute to activity on the sidewalk, but that would extremely limit the parking capacity of the structure as it is such a small site.

Adjacent to the site along 1st Street is a one story retail / commercial building (seen in far left in image above) and across 1st Street is the federal courthouse, damaged in last year’s flood, which will become property of the City once the new federal courthouse is opened. Across 2nd Avenue from the site is the Alliant Energy Tower, and kitty-corner to it is the now structurally-deficient First Street Parkade. This city-owned parking structure has long been slated for replacement by the future intermodal transportation facility at a new site, which has also spent many years in the planning and re-planning stage.