The Czech Village/New Bohemia Main Street District and NewBo City Market announce the inaugural Robert Chadima New Bohemia Visionary Award. The award will be presented annually to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the district and reflect Robert Chadima’s vision for the neighborhood.
Join the Czech Village-New Bohemia Main Street District as we honor the legacy of the late Bob Chadima by recognizing neighborhood leaders who are carrying out his vision of entrepreneurship, innovation, and creativity. The inaugural Robert Chadima Visionary Award presentation will be a part of the programming for our regular quarterly district business networking Meet & Greet. We invite you to attend to meet neighborhood stakeholders and leaders from throughout the community. This is a great opportunity to network, share ideas, and hopefully spark collaboration for ways that we can continue to improve Czech Village & New Bohemia.
Robert Chadima originally acquired the historic Cherry Building in 1976 to house his welding and industrial supply business, Thorarc Company. From the outset, his priority was to make loft studio spaces in the Cherry Building available to local artists such as Jane Gilmore, David Van Allen, Doug Hall, and Rod Bradley, and affordable work spaces for young entrepreneurs. His vision was to re-purpose the Cherry Building as an incubator for entrepreneurs and artists – with a passion for creativity being the common denominator.
Back then Third Street was known as a “Brown Field”, not “New Bohemia.” It was a proud old ethnic neighborhood with some strong bones, but the neighborhood was definitely in a severe state of decline. “Vision” means having the ability to see beyond what is before your eyes and imagine what it can become. Chadima had that in spades. Pursuing his vision required a life-long commitment, even when it didn’t appear to make any economic sense. Over the years he eventually sold his welding and industrial supply business, but kept the Cherry Building and other commercial properties to pursue his unique vision of repurposing historic buildings as creative spaces for artists and entrepreneurs.
In 1992 Legion Arts moved into the CSPS Building, creating a second pillar for creativity and the arts in the New Bohemia neighborhood. In 1999 Robert Chadima’s son and daughter in law, David and Lijun Chadima, moved back to Cedar Rapids and not only bought a 50% share in the commercial properties, they also bought into his vision of repurposing old buildings to develop a new, creative neighborhood that was authentic and unique to Cedar Rapids. Chadima’s vision began to spread beyond the Cherry Building in the early 2000s. A group of local artists and entrepreneurs got together in the Cherry Building to form the New Bohemia Group, and formally re-named the neighborhood “New Bohemia.”
The entire New Bohemia enterprise was nearly derailed by the flood of 2008, with the Cherry Building, CSPS Hall, and virtually all the historic buildings in the district receiving catastrophic flood damage. Even though Chadima was well into his 80s by this time, his indomitable spirit and commitment to the vision helped him persevere and pave the way for the “NewBo Post-flood Rennaisance.” The post-flood recovery was a catalyst for the development of the whole district, and was a great source of pride and sense of accomplishment for Chadima.
Chadima was the first to recognize the development of the district had to be a community enterprise shared by like-minded individuals. He would also be the first to recognize and appreciate the support of the City to provide the infrastructure to move things forward. He had the utmost admiration for the artists, entrepreneurs, and property developers who are carrying the torch forward and expanding the New Bohemia vision. He would be very honored to have this award given in his name to the outstanding recipients recognized today.
5-6pm Networking, Cocktails & Appetizers
6-7pm Presentation of Robert Chadima Visionary Awards
Please RSVP by April 10th here.
Thank you from the Robert Chadima Visionary Award Committee, David & Lijun Chadima, Scott Kruger, Jennifer Pratt, Jennifer Pruden, Dean Spina, and the Main Street Economic Vitality Committee.