Library closes, Westdale Mall tenants looking at an uncertain future
Written by Michelle Corless, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -
The Cedar Rapids Public Library inside Westdale Mall closed its doors for good Sunday. The mall was the temporary home for the library, and other organizations, following the floods of 2008. Now that many storefronts are empty, remaining tenants at the embattled shopping center are looking at an uncertain future.
Jane Grabowski takes her granddaughter to the Cedar Rapids Public Library inside Westdale Mall about once a week. They're excited for a new library to open where all the library's activities will be centrally located, unlike now.
"We would go down to the other room to hear Tom sing and we'd come here for stories but if I wanted to do something I needed to go across the hall," said Grabowski. "It was not nearly as convenient but I think that they did a really good job of making it work."
Westdale Mall became the temporary location for the library after the floods of 2008. Next week the library will be in its new, permanent home across the street from the mall.
"This space has worked well but we're really excited about having a permanent home," said Amber Mussman, Public Information Officer. "Some place that's a little more efficient to run. The space itself is going to be beautiful. It's going to have natural light. It has restrooms which we don't have now so we're just really looking forward to it."
The library isn't the only organization who's moved out of Westdale Mall. Linn County had offices inside as well and left last summer.
Now there's many empty stores. But remaining tenants, like Popcorn Shoppe, say they're confident they'll stay in business.
"We have a fantastic customer base and I don't want to leave," said Jan Young, Co-Owner of Popcorn Shoppe.
The future is filled with some uncertainty. The Frew Development Group, who's been in charge of construction for the convention center, is now working to redevelop Westdale Mall.
They're keeping the anchor stores but knocking down a good chunk of the rest to create a park, hotel, and housing. Current tenants have been told there's a space for them, too, inside the old Von Maur structure.
"We are willing to give it a shot," said Young.
The Frew group hopes to start construction by the end of the year, something much easier now that the library will be gone.
The new westside library in Cedar Rapids will open Saturday. There's a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m.
The new downtown library is expected to open this summer.
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