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Rebuilding Czech Village and New Bohemia


Nearly four and a half years after the devastating floods of 2008, there are still many areas of Cedar Rapids that have yet to recover.

Czech Village and New Bohemia were some of the hardest hit neighborhoods.

One group continues the painstaking work to bring that area back.

George Joens was born in raised in Cedar Rapids.

In the 1950s he bought a building in Czech Village.

As a business owner, he joined a group to help develop the neighborhood.

"There was myself and one other person who thought we should have a museum," said Joens.  "Our first museum was on C Street. It was an old house."

Joens saw first hand how the floods of 2008 swamped his neighborhood.

"Everything was completely destroyed," said Joens.

Now the Czech Village New Bohemia Main Street District is looking to rebuild the neighborhood.

The organization was formed in 2009 with the goal of revitalizing the area of Cedar Rapids that was once known for arts art culture.

"We would like to bring in some more arts projects, public art, sculpture gardens, things like that," said Jennifer Pruden, Executive Director.  "We want to make sure this continues as a vibrant, historic district."

But keeping the history alive has been a challenge for the group.

Early Friday morning a historic grocery store burned to the ground just days after the Cedar Rapids City Council decided to save it.

The fire was one of many in the area.

"It was really a devastating, heartbreaking blow for us," said Pruden.  "It was such a key landmark, historic asset to the district."

After gathering public input, the district hopes to rebuild and fill the empty spaces.

Joens says these plans are just what he envisioned for the district.

"The progress that we're looking at on paper today is amazing and this is what we wanted to do way back when but just didn't have the ability to do it then," said Joens.

There will be another public forum January 12th.

That will be at the CSPS Hall's black box theater.

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