The owners of Victory Gymnastics in Marion are planning a $3.3 million project to include a ninja warrior-style obstacle course, bouldering wall, trampolines and party spaces.

The 24,000-square-foot Victory Sports Center is planned for 6240 Gateway Drive in Marion Enterprise Center, next to the Victory Gymnastics facility that Stephanie and Eric Phillips of Solon opened more than three years ago.

Ms. Phillips said the new venture was the result of interest from the parents of Victory Gymnastics students in pursuing a sport such as gymnastics. Adult gymnastics courses aren't offered because the sport isn't well suited to older bodies, she tells them. Many other sports are, however.

The new facility will feature a 60-foot bouldering wall, a full-featured ninja warrior course with timing equipment, and trampolines. Bouldering is a climbing sport that utilizes no ropes, harnesses or other climbing gear,  and does not exceed vertical heights more than about 20 feet. 

The new center will feature a golf simulator, along with food and drink concessions, and party rooms.

"We're trying to make it where parents will enjoy being here as well," Ms. Phillips said. "We want to make it a fun place for the entire family."

Ms. Phillips believes the ninja warrior course will be a first for the Cedar Rapids metro area and set the facility apart from existing trampoline-focused sports centers.

"Because of the popularity of the television show American Ninja Warrior, a lot of people really want to give it a shot and see if they can get onto the show," Ms. Phillips said. American Ninja Warrior is now adding a junior program for younger contestants, she said, expanding interest in the sport. Victory Sports Center will offer training for ninja warrior, and the Phillipses' own sons, who are experienced gymnasts, will teach.

The council unanimously passed the initial reading of an ordinance providing tax increment financing to rebate 80 percent of the property taxes paid not to exceed $300,000 over a period of up to 10 years, according to minutes.

Marion Mayor Nick AbouAssaly told the CBJ he expects the facility to be more than a great recreational amenity for Marion.

"This is going to be a regional amenity that will serve the entire area and the users of Prospect Meadows (the new regional ballpark complex northwest of Marion)," Mr. AbouAssaly said.

The project is expected to get underway in September and be completed in spring 2020.
A site at Seventh Avenue and 12th Street in Marion where a mixed-use construction project has sat abandoned for about three years after a structure collapse caused by high winds is slated to be a new home for Tomaso's Pizza.

Marion Tomaso's owner Mike Pedersen received Marion City Council approval last week of a site plan to construct a new facility at the northeast corner of Seventh Avenue and 12th Street. Tomaso's will occupy the ground floor, while the upper floor will house two living units.

The building is significantly smaller than three-story 204 Building originally proposed, which would have used the entire site. However it allows for off-street parking on the north side of the lot for customers and tenants of the upper living units, even though not required by the U-1 Zoning district in which it is located.

Tomaso's Pizza is a longtime tenant of the Marion Square Mall, which had faced the possibility of redevelopment as part of a mixed-use project to include a new Marion library before the library board and city chose to build a freestanding facility at another location.

The council is expected to consider a final agreement with Mr. Pedersen's company, Whaddayawant Inc., for tax increment financing at a later date.

Iowa home sales were unchanged in July from a year earlier, however home prices continued to rise.

The Iowa Association of Realtors reported 4,356 home sold in July, the same as July 2018. The median sales price was $175,000, an increase of 2.3 percent from a year earlier.

Homes were on the market longer before selling, and the months' supply of inventory increased 4.8 percent for single-family detached homes and 8.9 percent for townhouse/condo homes. 

In the Iowa City multiple listing service (MLS), home sales were down 5.8 percent from July 2018 to 259, and the median sales price was up 4 percent to $254,500. The average days on market for listings was up 3.6 percent to 58.

Home sales in the Cedar Rapids MLS were up 2.7 percent to 301, and the median sales price rose 4.7 percent to $176,500. The average days on market was up 10.3 percent, to 32.
The association reported that low mortgage interest rates have helped offset low housing affordability, but high home prices are outpacing median household income growth. In a move to stoke continued economic prosperity, the Federal Reserve reduced the benchmark interest rate by a quarter point, a move that should improve home affordability.
A request from Cargill Corp. for an Essential Service designation that would have allowed it to operate a railyard on two farm parcels near Otis Road and Prairie Park Road in Southeast Cedar Rapids was sidetracked Tuesday when the Cedar Rapids City Council could not muster a motion to approve or deny the request.

The proposal had received a favorable recommendation from the Cedar Rapids Planning and Zoning Commission, despite strong opposition from homeowners in the city's Rompot neighborhood. It was brought to the city council with a list of nine conditions for operating a rail yard at the location. Violating the conditions would have been grounds for the city to repeal the Essential Service designation.

Cargill is one of the city's largest and oldest grain processing industries, operating at several locations. It says the railyard is now needed to remain cost-competitive.

Assistant Development Services Manager Sandy Pumphrey reviewed Cargill's responses to major concerns such as noise, light, property value impacts and visual degradation raised by residents. They included appraisal studies pointing to little impact on property values in railyard areas, and noise modeling suggesting the rail yard would not violate city noise standards.

After a lengthy public hearing and council discussions, one of the council's major concerns revolved not around site and environmental issues, but around a legal question. Several residents including State Sen. Rob Hogg, a Cedar Rapids attorney, argued that a rail yard to serve the needs of a a single company does not fit the definition of Essential Service under the city code. A city attorney's opinion issued to the city council late last week indicated it's a gray area, acknowledged city councilman Scott Olson, one of the council members who was unprepared to make a decision.

Council member Tyler Olson said he'd definitely decided it did not meet the definition of essential service, and would vote against it, while council member Ashley Vanorny said she would not support the location. Council member Ann Poe was absent. 

When Mayor Brad Hart called for a motion on the designation, no council member spoke and the matter was allowed to die. It was the second unsuccessful try for Cargill after an earlier rail yard location was rejected and is not likely to be the last. Council member Dale Todd said the city council was urged to consider the Essential Service designation because it provided more control over the future of the site than a zoning change would in terms of protecting surrounding property owners.

"At the end of the day, we all have to find a way to work together," Mr Todd said. "Someday, somewhere, there will be a rail yard for Cargill.".

CREDIT:  Tommy's Express 
Work has begun on a $3-million-plus Tommy's Express Car Wash facility at Westdale in Cedar Rapids, joining two other car wash facilities planned for the market.

The new wash facility will be located at 3820 Westdale Parkway SW, near Caribou Coffee and Mattress Firm. 

The facility will utilize about half the lot, with a tunnel wash and about two vacuum stations, according to Todd Nelson, Executive Vice President of Frew Development, Westdale's developer.  

"We're excited to have them, and there are some other good things coming," Mr. Nelson said. 

It is the first purely automotive use the Westdale redevelopment project has attracted. Mr. Nelson said Frew Development has had talks with other automotive service-type businesses, however none have reached fruition.

Based in Holland, Michigan, Tommy's Express has franchises in 15 states. Westdale will be its first Iowa location.

Another large national chain that is already in the market, Mister Car Wash, is planning two new Cedar Rapids facilities in the Edgewood Road corridor. One new location is planned near the southeast corner of Edgewood Road and Williams Boulevard SW. The other is being developed at 5260 Edgewood Road NE, on the northwest perimeter of the Fountains retail and office development.
Anchor6aroundthewebFrom around the web
Get it, give it

Forward the FREE, weekly CBJ Real Estate Report newsletter to your friends and colleagues, and share the feeling of being informed! Use our fast, one-minute subscription to the CBJ's newsletters here, or check out our other subscription options here.

See something we missed? Send tips, leads, corrections, etc. to

Note: The CBJ is now observing summer hours through Aug. 30. The CBJ offices will be open Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., and Fridays, 8 a.m.-noon.  
Short-Term Event Planner .
Aug. 29
Search Engine Optimization, by SCORE of East Central Iowa, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., HyVee, 5050 Edgewood Road NE, Cedar Rapids. Learn how to optimize your business listing and other local search strategies. Cost: $10. To register, visit
Sept. 3
Iowa City Roundtable, by Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, noon-1 p.m., Hilton Garden Inn, 328 S. Clinton St., Iowa City. Members are invited to network and keep up to date with chamber and community events. Free. To register, visit
Sept. 4
1 Million Cups, by 1MC Cedar Rapids, 8:15-9:15 a.m., Geonetric, 415 12th Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. Join for community connections, free coffee and presentations by entrepreneurs, established companies, experts and more. Free. For more information, visit
1 Million Cups, by 1MC Iowa City, 9-10 a.m., MERGE, 136 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City. Join for community connections, free coffee and presentations by entrepreneurs, established companies, experts and more. Free. For more information, visit
Sept. 5
Wake Up Marion, by Marion Chamber of Commerce, 8-9 a.m., There's No Quit Kickboxing and Self Defense Studio, 1317 Seventh Ave., Suite A, Marion. Meet owner Duane Johnson and other Marion Chamber members. Free. To register, visit

P romopalooza!, by Bankers Advertising Company, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Coralville Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, 300 E. Ninth St., Coralville. Visit with over two dozen of our top suppliers to explore thousands of promo products including awards, bags, calendars, drinkware, food gifts, pens and tech accessories. Free. Lunch will be provided. Register at

Demystifying the Power of Hash Tags, by SCORE of East Central Iowa, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., HyVee, 5050 Edgewood Road NE, Cedar Rapids. Learn steps and tips for utilizing hash tags in your business' social media posts. Cost: $10. To register, visit
I owa City Area Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting, by Chamber of Commerce, 4-6 p.m., MERGE, Lower Level, 136 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City. The chamber is planning its own ribbon cutting. Free. For more information, visit  b .
Headlines from CBS2/FOX 28 
These news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28  

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Trump administration earlier this month issued more than two dozen waivers to oil refineries, which exempts them from having to meet requirements for blending ethanol in their fuels - a move that has sparked criticism from both Democrats and members of his own Republican party alike, especially in states like Iowa.  On Tuesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds said she is urging the administration to act, noting that demand for four billion gallons of biofuels has been destroyed because of the waivers over the last three years. EPA data shows that the Trump administration has granted 85 waivers in that time period.   Her concerns have been echoed by Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley. Sen. Ernst said at  a town hall recently that life in the Midwest is "under attack"  because of the EPA policy and Mr. Grassley bluntly said during a recent taping of Iowa Public Television's Iowa Press that the EPA  "screwed us " with the waivers.  "What's bad is that it isn't a waiver, it's that it's being granted to people who really aren't [sic] hardship," Mr. Grassley, who added there were fewer waivers given during the Obama administration combined than three years under the Trump administration.  The EPA can grant waivers to refineries if they can demonstrate that complying with federally-mandated biofuel blend requirements would cause  "disproportionate economic hardship." Critics angry over the waivers say companies like Exxon and Chevron, two oil giants that have sought exemptions. are not facing such hardship.

A Waukon man is facing charges after investigators in Allamakee County say he climbed a water tower, got naked and refused to come down.  Investigators said Ryan Daniel Peters, 34, was nowhere to be found when his truck caught on fire on Iron Mine Dr. at about 7:15 p.m. Mr.  Peters was later found at about 9:05 p.m. on top of the water tower located at the Allamakee County Sheriff's Office and Jail on Highway 9. Mr. Peters was about 65 feet off the ground and refused to come down - then removed all of his clothes. Law enforcement officials  said it took about an hour and 15 minutes to get Mr. Peters to come down from the tower, after which he was arrested. He  is currently being held in the Allamakee County Jail, charged with trespassing and interference with official acts.

T hese news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28 
CBS2 Chief Meteorologist Terry Swails' Weather First Forecast
Today will be nice and comfortable once again. Temperatures will be in the low to mid-70s under mostly sunny skies. It will be a bit breezy again with gusts as high as 25 mph. A weak cold front will move through the area Thursday. Out ahead of it, we'll have partly cloudy skies and a little warm up. Temperatures will be in the low 80s with slightly higher humidity. The front may produce a few showers and storms, mainly south of Highway 20. The front will stall to the south of the state Friday so it will be dry to end the week. Temperatures will be in the 70s under partly cloudy skies.