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Amid the expansion of Uptown, Marion thinks about parking



Cedar Rapids, Iowa – Uptown Marion is growing, and as it does, people are thinking about parking.
Reporter Richard Pratt of the Corridor Business Journal recently authored an article outlining the city’s intentions, one of which included converting the former Marion Methodist church into homes.

“Last week the Marion City Council approved plans for what’s being called the Belltower Lofts, which is a redevelopment of the iconic former Methodist Church at the corner of 12th Street and 8th Avenue in Uptown Marion. The church was built back in 1896, but it was heavily damaged in the 2020 derecho and after that it sat empty,” Pratt explained.
”In fact, it was actually proposed for demolition until city leaders launched a campaign to save it, and a team of developers have come up with a plan to convert that former church to a 55 unit housing development. It won’t be cheap,” Pratt added.

According to him, the project will cost between $10 and $11 million.

“A development agreement should come to the council in May and developers say the project is going to take about 18 months to complete,” said Pratt.
In light of the city’s intentions to pursue Uptown growth, parking difficulties are being addressed.

“If you’ve visited Uptown Marion, especially in the last few years, you’ll notice a big uptick and activity with lots of people visiting Marion shops, restaurants, and other attractions, but with that comes up perception that it’s really challenging to find parking that’s within a reasonable distance of your destination. So the council and the Chamber of Commerce have commissioned a parking study to get actual data on the issue. But basically the city says Uptown Marion’s parking is being used currently at about 2/3 of its capacity. But with the bell tower Lofts project as well as the upcoming Broad and Main on 6th housing project and the redevelopment of the former Marion Public Library site leaders think that that usage could come closer to 90% of capacity. So they’re just looking for some more information about how to address the issue as Uptown Marion continues to grow,” said Pratt.

According to Pratt, municipal officials are pleased that Uptown is still thriving even if they are monitoring the parking problem.

“Developers can be understandably hesitant to start new things and commercial projects if there won’t be enough parking for the residents or their customers. So city leaders are hoping that the new parking study will set shed some light on the extent of the issue. But still council member Gage Miskimen said, pointed out at the council’s most recent meeting that a lot of communities in Iowa specifically wish that they were in Marion shoes with so much new development that the city actually has to worry about parking problems in their downtown or uptown area. That’s kind of a good problem to have for Marion,” Pratt said.