CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) — A restoration project in the fast-growing NewBo district of Cedar Rapids is finally finished after months of flood-repair delay.
A line of HESCO barriers protected most of NewBo during Cedar River flooding in September of 2016. But one building that wound up on the “wet” side of the flood wall was the historic Ideal Theatre property. The flooding put about two feet of water inside the building when it was close to final restoration.
But 13 months later, the project is finally finished and what started out life in the early 1900s as a neighborhood silent movie theater will come back to life as a venue for corporate outings, business events and wedding receptions. Nick Jelinek, who did a lot of the restoration work, says the family was constantly peppered with questions about when the project would be finished.
“Every day people would walk by, look in and cheer us on—giving words of support,” he said.
Jelinek says the historic restoration project, which includes an original tin ceiling and two large murals, was 70 percent complete when the high water came and ruined some of the work.
The family owns other businesses nearby and those buildings took on water in the basement. So flood repair for existing businesses took priority over restoration of the old theater. Still, it’s done now with room for 175 people inside and more eventually in an outdoor garden space that will be finished early next year.
Steph Jelinek, who will oversee the social hall, thinks the completion of this historic restoration might spur others to either restore or build new in the same part of NewBo along 16th Avenue S.E. “I think the more places that open and develop—it’s just going to become a more cozy neighborhood,” she said.
The social hall owners see a need for this kind of public space with one wedding and one toy show already signed up in the coming months even before officially opening. A public open house for the new venue is set for Thursday, November 9th from 5:00 till 9:00 p.m. at 213 16th Ave. S.E.