Westdale Mall Developing Housing

posted by WMT News / KCRG-TV9 -

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- A just-opened hotel is the latest addition to the redevelopment of Westdale Mall in Cedar Rapids. And 2018 may see more housing units along with some new retail space.

This Tru by Hilton hotel opened at Westdale Mall in late February, 2018. Mall developers say at least part of the focus at the one-time enclosed mall property will be housing.

The idea of the redevelopment plan at the old mall, launched in 2014, was always a “hybrid”—a mix of retail, dining and living.

The Tru by Hilton hotel opened in late February has pretty much what you’d expect in an 82-room hotel property. But there’s also some things you don’t expect.

For instance, the larger than normal lobby features a pool table, board games for customers to share and even privacy zones for conversations.

Val Barnes, general manager, says the new boutique hotel concept, with just 15 Tru brand hotels nationwide, is to get guests out of the rooms to meet new people, socialize and perhaps even make new friends.

And Barnes says in just a few short weeks, there are signs it’s working.

“We’re getting more families in and each time people are booking they see families in the lobby and you see them talking with each other and playing the games and just hanging out,” Barnes said.

Barnes says there are also signs the new hotel property is on the way to economic success too.

Several days this week, the hotel was full with 100 percent occupancy. He says that’s unusual for a hotel property in Cedar Rapids in winter with no large community or sporting events.

Lisa Rowe, Westdale manager, says a multi-story building with 33 apartment units and commercial space on the ground floor should get under construction this spring next to the now-open hotel.

Rowe says unlike past years, you won’t see construction going on in every part of the property. Rather, it will be work in a specific area on a specific project.

“All the infrastructure is in. The parking fields, all the ring roads, sidewalks are in. What we’ll be working on this year will be primarily building construction and associated parking lots,” Rowe said.

Rowe says Westdale could also start on another multi-use building depending on who signs up as tenants.

The unanswered question, for now, is what happens to the Younkers property.

Rowe says that’s up to the bankruptcy court and the company’s going out of business plans.

But she says developers will likely divide the building up into smaller retail spaces once Younkers closes the doors.

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