Yesterday, January 6th, 2021, a violent mob of fascist protesters incited by the President of the United States stormed the United States Capitol to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power. The event was broadcast live on major news networks, and leaders of the mob livestreamed their takeover of the building. I watched it all from my phone screen, my tv, and my laptop. You probably did too. It was not a new or peculiar kind of violence in this current America. It looked like when armed protesters stormed the Michigan Capitol. When far right extremists descended upon Charlottesville. …

This is a guest post by Eric Gutschmidt. Gutschmidt has been a landlord for over 11 years and is the owner of Gutschmidt Properties. He is also my boss.

Eric Gutschmidt is the owner of Gutschmidt Properties in Cedar Rapids, IA.

Last month we posted a typical ad for one of our rental properties on Zillow. What wasn’t so typical? The response. Dozens of inquires within days. Following the August derecho, Cedar Rapids rental vacancies are hovering near zero percent.

Covid and the derecho have brought to light major issues in our community’s housing supply. There are not enough units — market rate or income-restricted — and there are landlords who do…

The August 10 derecho was powerful enough to rip the roofs off of houses and flatten buildings. Photo by Ron Reynolds.

It has been five days without power for most of Linn County. Alliant energy has announced that nearly all customers will have power within five to seven days. The grid might be back in that amount of time but many customers will still be without power for long afterwards. This is because the derecho destroyed countless homeowners house knobs — the houses connection to the electrical grid — which is the homeowner or property owners responsibility to replace.

Eric Gutschmidt, owner of Gutschmidt Properties, spent most of yesterday trying to track down house knobs, one and one quarter inch Milbank…

9th Ave SE in Oakhill-Jackson Immediately after the derecho on Monday, August 10, 2020. This street sustained mild damage and debris. Most of the city was much worse. Photo by Ben Kaplan.

At 11 a.m. on Monday, August 10 2020 Cedar Rapids was there, by 2 p.m. it was gone. Monday’s derecho, a landlocked hurricane with straight line winds over 100 mph, has impacted every part of the city catastrophically. Nearly every home has damage. Most big trees in the city fell. Most local businesses are closed. Every business is damaged. Most roads are impassable. As of 10 a.m. Wednesday 90,000 plus households in Linn County were without power. Restoring power across the grid will take weeks. Lines at gas stations outside of town with power were hours long. Chainsaws are sold…

Spoiler: the “winner” gets a C-

It looks like Cedar Rapids isn’t getting a casino on the westside of the Cedar River in Kingston Village. After being shot down twice in four years by the state gaming commission for a casino license, the city of Cedar Rapids opened up eight acres of city owned land straddling 1st Ave W and adjacent to the Cedar River to new proposals. Two were submitted by the Friday, February 28 deadline. I don’t feel like repeating Brian Morelli, so check out his article to learn more about both proposals. Unfortunately, from an urbanist perspective both leave a lot to be…

Future Supreme Court Justice Elle Woods using a tangerine iBook.

In the late 1990s Apple computers, under the newly reinstated helm of CEO Steve Jobs, refocused their product lineup, shirking off business units like a chef peels skin off garlic. The introduced a slew of brand new Macs all designed by Jonathan Ive with lively, inventive, frankly whimsical designs. There was the iMac, originally availably only in a color called Bondi Blue, which was eventually sold in no less than eleven colors and two patterns. The Powermac G3 was a blue and white tower, which you could get with a matching CRT or stunning LCD displays. The iBook was a…

On June 15th, The African American Museum of Iowa will host a Juneteenth Celebration at Viola Gibson Park in the Oakhill Jackson neighborhood of Cedar Rapids.

Juneteenth is a celebration of the end of slavery and the emancipation of black people, commonly referred to as black independence day. On June 19th 1865, two years after the Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation, a final group of slaves learned they were free. It is, remarkably and pathetically, not a national holiday.

Viola Gibson park is named after, well, Viola Gibson, the founder of Cedar Rapids’ chapter of the NAACP, and a lifelong…

What We Shared on Social Media Last Week

Riders waiting for an arriving train in downtown Chicago. Photo by Ben Kaplan.

We here at Corridor Urbanism know that not everyone has Facebook. We also know that Facebook is not the worlds best company, and not wanting to use Facebook is completely reasonable. We’re also aware that the main way we engage is by… sharing stuff on Facebook. We shouldn’t rely so heavily on one very broken platform. So this is a list of all the stuff we shared on our facebook page from February 16 to 23. I think this is probably a good thing to do going forward with the content we share on social media.

If you like this…

Cedar Rapids has a plethora of great downtown coffee houses. But which one is best? Photo by Ben Kaplan.

We’re lucky to live in a city with such a robust coffee culture. But doesn’t that beg the question, which of the downtown coffee shops is the best? Most local blogs wouldn’t dare touch such a loaded question. I know just how loyal people can be to their coffeehouse of choice. But I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to drink coffee until I can see sound. Unhappy with the rankings? Too bad. That’s the way the biscotti crumbles.

  1. Blue Strawberry Coffee Company(Tie) — 118 2nd St SE

1. Brewed Awakenings (Tie) — 1271 1st Ave SE

1. Brewhemia

I’m using this image to remind people that while tens and tens and tens of million of dollars is being poured into building strip malls along Edgewood Road, empty buildings along that road are just as common a sight.

A new 55 acre strip mall is coming to the swirl of sprawl around Highway 100, Edgewood Road, and Blairs Ferry. It will be called Edgewood Town Center, I assume without a hint of irony. It will get tax breaks. Everything gets tax breaks. The developer does claim that a “new to the area” 200,000 square foot big box retailer will be among the tenants. The thing is we’re in the middle of a "retail tipping point” that is dramatically reshuffling the retail landscape, so there’s not a whole lot of companies opening 200,000 square foot stores. …

Ben Kaplan

Urbanism nerd, Mac enthusiast, Iowan

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