Linn Co. Unveils Dows Farm Plan

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- A plan to turn nearly 200 acres of Linn County farmland into housing, business and recreation space will get formally unveiled to the public Thursday afternoon.

Linn County purchased the Dows Farm property, located along Mt. Vernon Road west of Highway 13, two years ago. Linn County Planning and Development is hosting an open house to show maps, concepts and other parts of the potential plan from 5:30-7:00 p.m. at the A Touch of Class Banquet & Convention Center, 5977 Mt. Vernon Road S.E.

Right now, the Dows Farm owned by the county is 180 acres of rolling farmland looking much as it has for years.

But Les Beck, Linn County Planning & Development director, says designers have worked behind the scenes for months to come up with a plan to turn the county-owned land into something unique in planned developments.

“There’s just nothing like this in the area. There are some national examples, but nothing local like this,” Beck said.

Beck says the original farmstead is still on the property and part of the plan calls for building a model farm to showcase sustainable agriculture. Wrapped around the farm would be housing developments and plenty of greenspace and conservation land.

The plan also envisions an extensive trail system that would link up with other nearby trails and continue on to the county’s Squad Creek Park in Marion.

Beck says it’s possible the county, after a developer is chosen, would consider building the recreational trail first.

Logan Orcutt, a member of a local mountain bike group, says that has area bikers excited.

“It’s definitely peaked a lot of the cycling community’s interest. I know personally I’ve tried to extend the message to go out and see what the potential is out there,” Orcutt said.

Beck says it’s also possible some of the commercial development may start before the residential housing.

Eric Frantz, who owns the Edith Lucielle’s Restaurant, on the other side of Mt. Vernon Road across from the proposed development, would certainly welcome more development in the area and more traffic for his business.

“We’re busy already but we can always get busier. That’s what pays the bills, people coming to our restaurant,” he said.

Beck says county leaders will weigh comments from the open house in deciding how to proceed with the Dows Farm project. He doesn’t expect to see actual construction until the fall of 2019.

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