The Iowa Association of Realtors reported lower home sales and higher home prices in April.

A total of 3,192 homes were sold during the month, down 6.5 percent from the 3,415 homes sold in April 2018. An 8.1 percent increase in the sale of townhome and condo properties partially offset a 8.5 percent decrease in sales of single-family detached homes. The median sales price was $164,000, up 4.4 percent from $157,000 in April 2018.

The number of homes on the market and the pace of sales rose, with 6,278 new homes on the market compared with 5,429 new listings in April 2018. Homes were on the market for an average of 74 days in April, selling 7.4 percent faster than a year ago.

"It was great to see a nice increase in new properties on the market in April," Iowa Association of Realtors President John Goede said in a news release. "As the weather continues to improve, the Spring market is beginning to pick up. In many areas of Iowa, the competition is fierce for well-priced homes in desirable locations. We are looking forward to a stronger May and June."

The information used to create the IAR April Housing Trends Report was current as of May 15. The information is subject to change due to the dynamic nature of the IAR's housing statistics system, which is based on data from the local participating MLS (multiple listing service) systems.
Historic preservation consultant Mark Stoffer Hunter of History Connect shares an idea with Heart of America Group CEO Mike Whalen at the World Theater on May 17. PHOTO DAVE DeWITTE
In a boost to efforts to efforts to secure needed historic preservation tax credits, preservation groups and city officials appear to back the Heart of America Group's part restoration/part demolition approach to incorporating the 104-year-old World Theater into a $50-million hotel and restaurant project in downtown Cedar Rapids.

Heart of America plans to redevelop the former Guaranty Bank Building in the 300 block of Third Ave. SE into a boutique hotel with a Johnny's Italian Steakhouse and lobby on the ground floor. It also plans to build a nine-story AC Hotel by Marriott with a rooftop restaurant behind the World.

The World, which also went by the names The Strand and the State, was in operation longer than any other movie theater in Cedar Rapids, showing first-run movies right up until it closed in October 1981. It has not operated as a movie theater in 37-1/2 years.  

Meeting with preservationists and city officials May 17, Heart of America (HOA) Group founders Mike and Kim Whalen and project architect Dan Oliver used a video screen to provide a virtual walk-through of the project completed appearance. They then explained why they don't believe saving the entire building as a theater would be viable, and converting it into a gathering and event space is the best way to preserve it.

Their plans include restoring the facade of the building, and brightening the entire space by replacing a large arched window above the entrance and fill the rear wall with glass. Some of the lobby and ticket counter area of the building would be restored; however, the back 40 percent of the building, including the stage and screen area, will be removed and a glass-enclosed connection to the AC Hotel behind it will be constructed.

Mr. Whalen said the idea for removing part of the building has been criticized by some who would prefer the entire building be restored as a theater. However, most of the distinctive architectural features associated with its theater use have been stripped and structural members that provided support to the back wall were also removed, raising some concerns about its long-term integrity.

The World Theater portion will eat up a good portion of the historic preservation tax credits HOA Group plans to seek for the project, Mr. Whalen said. But if the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service that oversee state and federal historic preservation tax credits take an all-or-nothing approach to restoring the building and deny credits it would greatly limit what HOA could invest in restoring the building.

The partial restoration/partial removal is "not only the good approach, but the only approach to restoring the World Theater," Mr. Whalen said.

The city of Cedar Rapids and groups like Friends of Historic Preservation and Save CR Heritage represented at the meeting seemed to support the idea, even if part of the building is removed and it precludes a new era of use as a theater.

History Connect, which is working with Heart of America Group, discussed several ideas for incorporating the theater's movie history into the project. They included adding some theater seating salvaged from the original World, restoring and relighting the original 'WORLD' sign that once topped the building, decorating with historic movie posters, installing a movie-style corn popper and hosting movie night events that used the east wall of the building as a projection surface.

"By granting tax credits, it brings us back to using parts of a historic theater building that haven't been used in nearly 40 years," historic consultant Mark Stoffer Hunter of History Connect said after the meeting. He noted that the need for another historic theater is not the same as it would be in some communities, because downtown Cedar Rapids already has two functioning historic theaters, the Paramount and Theatre Cedar Rapids (the former Iowa Theatre).
The 52nd annual Greater Iowa City Area Parade of Homes will feature 25 homes, including 18 new-construction homes and seven renovated homes throughout Coralville, Iowa City, North Liberty, Solon, Swisher and Tiffin.

The event will be held June 1-9, providing an opportunity for  home buyers and those planning a remodeling project to see quality-built homes and gain knowledge about current construction techniques and trends in homebuilding and renovation . Besides touring the homes, ticket holders have the chance to speak with builders, designers, contractors, realtors and others involved in many aspects of the homebuilding industry. There will be information and examples of new technologies, the latest building materials, floor plans and home decor.

"We are confident you will find the perfect match to help you on your next project, big or small," said Greater Iowa City Area HBA Executive Officer Karyl Bohnsack said in a news release.

Tickets good for each day cost $8 and can be purchased at The Greater Iowa City Area Home Builders Association (HBA) - 11 S. Gilbert, Iowa City - or each parade home. A ttendees can access home details on the Iowa City Area HBA website and through the Parade Craze App, which includes directions to each home, photos and builder information. A Parade of Homes Guidebook can be found in the May 26 Cedar Rapids Gazette and at various businesses throughout the metro area.

After downloading the app, parade goers should search for 2019 Greater Iowa City Area Parade of Homes. The app also allows them to rate homes in various categories, including overall best - a new classification this year. 

Bicycling enthusiasts can pedal their way through the parade in the fourth annual Urban Acres Real Estate Bike Ride on June 1. The ride kicks off at 10 a.m. at the Urban Acres office, 250 Holiday Road, Coralville with breakfast and giveaways. More information and suggested routes are available at or in the guidebook.

The 2019 Greater Iowa City Area Parade of Homes is co-sponsored by Hills Bank and Urban Acres Real Estate and put on by The Greater Iowa City Area HBA. Alexander Lumber Co. is the official lumber sponsor. CBI Bank & Trust is the members-only breakfast sponsor and Mills Custom Homes the awards sponsor. 

The schedule for the 52 nd Parade of Homes for 18 new-construction homes is:
  • June 1: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • June 2:  noon-5 p.m.
  • June 4:  5:30-8:30 p.m.
  • June 6:  5:30-8:30 p.m.
  • June 8:  10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • June 9:  noon-5 p.m.
The 22 nd Remodelers Parade highlights large and small renovations in seven homes within Coralville, Iowa City and Solon. There is one complete-home remodel; three kitchen-only remodels; two main-floor remodels; and a sunroom/patio addition. Its schedule is:
  • June 1: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • June 2: noon-5 p.m.
A rendering showing the proposed Banjo block project in downtown Cedar Rapids. IMAGE SC BODNER
The $32 million redevelopment of Cedar Rapids' "Banjo block" is expected to help achieve a critical mass of downtown residents and accelerate redevelopment of surrounding properties, city leaders said in a preliminary review of a big incentive package.

SC Bodner Company, a family-owned multifamily developer based in Indianapolis, is working with the city on plans for a five-story structure with 184 apartments, a 222-space parking garage and a stack of amenities including a courtyard pool, rooftop patio, workout facility and bike shop. The plans surfaced in an incentive package that went to the city council on May 14.

"We really try to find ground-zero locations in our markets," said Mike Klein, director of development for SC Bodner. He said the company likes the close proximity to the city's library, Greene Square, museum, and downtown restaurants and attractions, and, through a broker, was able to negotiate a fair price at the high end of the range it was willing to pay.

Redeveloping the one-block site due east of the Cedar Rapids Public Library will require demolition of a mixture of older and largely vacant buildings, including the former Dupaco Community Credit Union and the onetime Banjo Refrigeration building, for which the block has been nicknamed.

SC Bodner is planning to work with local historic preservation organizations to salvage architectural elements of value, and to incorporate elements in the project such as plaques or photos that honor the history of the block.

In exchange for investment guarantees by SC Bodner, the city council authorized a preliminary incentive package proposal including a 100 percent rebate of the tax increment generated by the improvements to the block over 20 years. The incentive is capped at $5.245 million.

Read the full members-only story in this week's print or digital editions of the CBJ. 

Cash rental rates for Iowa farmland declined 1.4 percent to a statewide average of $219 per acre, according to the newly ISU Extension and Outreach Cash Rental Rates for Iowa 2019 survey.
The decrease rolls back a modest increase of $3 per acre in 2018 to 2017 levels. The 2018 increase was the first in  the average cash rent recorded since at least 2015.
The average cash rent in East Central Iowa (District 6) fell from $235 per acre to $229 per acre. Cash rents were down in six of the nine reporting districts in the state. Cash rents held even in two districts,  which are located in southern Iowa, and rose in  the southeasternmost district of the state, from $203 to $210 per acre.
ISU Extension received 1,262 responses to the survey statewide and 145 survey responses in District 6. Respondents indicated cash rents were $268 for the highest quality third of acreage, and $187 for the lowest quality third. Rents in East Central Iowa ranged from a high of $301 for the top quality acres in Scott County, to a low of $143 for the lowest quality acres in Muscatine County.
To download the publication from the ISU Extension store, click  here .
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Short-Term Event Planner .
May 23
Small Business Breakfast Roundtable, by SCORE of East Central Iowa, 7:30-9 a.m., Scott's Family Restaurant, 1906 Blairs Ferry Road NE, Cedar Rapids. This is an informal, small group networking opportunity for those in business and those thinking of starting a business. Free. To register, visit
Become a Champion Networker, by Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, 8-9:15 a.m., Economic Alliance, 501 First St. SE. Learn ways to maximize connections made while networking and how to establish a purpose for each event. Josh McNary, of McNary Marketing & Design LLC, will facilitate the program. Free. To register, visit
All Stars of ICR Luncheon, by Kirkwood Community College, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, 7725 Kirkwood Blvd. SW, Cedar Rapids. The event will honor young people who are making an impact in Eastern Iowa's key industries. Tickets: $49/person or $400/table of 10. To register, call (319) 398-1022.
May 29
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
Investing on Tap, by Hills Bank, 4:30-6 p.m., Tin Roost, 840 W. Penn St., North Liberty. Join Hills Bank Wealth Management for drinks and hors d'oeuvres. Candice Tse from Goldman Sachs Asset Management will share a summary of trends in socially responsible investing. Free. Register at
June 1
The Views Grand Opening, by The Views Senior Living, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 720 Oakbrook Drive, Marion. Enjoy cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and live music while touring the new senior living community. Free. For more information, visit
Headlines from CBS2/FOX 28 
These news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28  

Gov. Kim Reynolds has vetoed a measure passed by the Iowa General Assembly that would have limited the powers of Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller to join lawsuits outside of Iowa, including those against the Trump Administration. Gov.  Reynolds signed a budget bill into law funding Iowa's justices systems but line-item vetoed a policy piece GOP lawmakers approved in the final days of session designed to restrict the attorney general's power. It would have required the attorney general to get approval from the governor, the legislature or the executive council before joining any out-of-state lawsuits. Mr.  Miller, a Democrat, and Gov. Reynolds, a Republican, instead have agreed in "good faith" that Mr. Miller will consult the governor if he wishes to join any lawsuits or author amicus briefs on behalf of the state of Iowa. Mr. Miller still has the authority to take legal action in his own name as the attorney general of Iowa.  "This is a good-faith agreement between Gov. Reynolds and me." Mr. Miller said in a statement. "This agreement allows my office to continue to protect Iowans through consumer enforcement actions, which are primarily filed in Iowa courts. It also allows me to express my opinion on matters affecting Iowans before federal agencies and Congress."  The agreement between Gov. Reynolds and Mr. Miller is for the duration of Mr. Miller's time serving in the capacity as attorney general. The two met privately ahead of her decision to veto the provision Wednesday. Gov.  Reynolds said that she agrees with concerns of some GOP lawmakers about past actions of Mr. Miller in joining lawsuits outside of Iowa, including those against the Trump administration. That was the focus of Republicans who introduced the proposal at the Iowa capitol.

Cedar Rapids police have identified two new persons of interest related to a deadly shooting Saturday morning that killed two people and left two others with life-threatening injuries. Police have also found one of the previous persons of interest they were looking for.  The two new people are:  Kenyauta Keith, age 19, height: 5'9", weight 195 pounds and C olby Shannon, age 22, height 5'9", weight 145 pounds.  Police have now located Alexandra Smith, 24 and are still looking for D eShawn Hull, 21, 5'8", 200 pounds and  Andre Richardson, 25, 6'1", 185 pounds.  Police are asking anyone who knows where these individuals might be to call them at (319) 286-5491.

T hese news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28 
CBS2 Chief Meteorologist Terry Swails' Weather First Forecast
We'll be drying out and warming up today. Clouds will break up and temperatures will climb into the 70s. It will still be windy with winds out of the south ushering in warmer air. A weak disturbance will move through Missouri tonight and there may be a few stray showers near and south of Highway 30 tonight. Otherwise it will be partly cloudy through the night.  It will be dry and warm again Thursday with temperatures in the 70s under mostly sunny skies. A warm front will then lift north Thursday night into Friday and lead to scattered showers and thunderstorms. That front will stall out and lead to rain chances through the day. Some strong storms will be possible. Temperatures will remain in the 70s.