Mott Lofts: Where Past & Present Meet

From Corridor Business Journal’s Lure of the City magazine
By Ruth Paarmann

Back in 1902, the Iowa Wind Mill & Pump Co. made and housed its wares in several facilities on the west bank of the Cedar River. One structure remains: the main brick building, which was labeled “Mott Inc.” in the 1990s. In 2012, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The previous owner, Linn County, used it for storage and debated using the land for other purposes following the flood of 2008. But the county decided to sell, and Hobart Historic Restoration saw the value in the sturdy structure.
“My husband and I always liked the building, especially the setting on the river. We admired it for years before the opportunity came along to work on it,” said owner and project manager B.J. Hobart.
The company made plans to convert it to a mixed-use building, completing its residential apartment units in 2016. According to Casey Dunagan, property manager, all unites were occupied by July.
“Several of our residents work at Rockwell or Transamerica, and some of them travel a lot,” said Mr. Dunagen. He noted that many of them relocated to Cedar Rapids from out of state, and most are young professionals in their 20s and 30s.
The apartments feature similar layouts with wood-look flooring, stone counters and open floor plans. Most units offer one bedroom, while four are two-bedroom units.  Residents must agree to respect the brick walls and beams that add historic character and value to the building, Mr. Dunagan noted.
The lobby features exposed beams, pulleys and photos of the building. Residents can use the elevator, but many opt for the rustic restored staircase.
While the building stands close to a number of downtown gyms, a workout room was added in the basement for residents. Hobart also occupied a space for its maintenance shop to easily access the mowers, snow blowers and other equipment required to keep the property tidy.
Outside, with its refreshed white letting, the building is a prominent landmark on the river’s west bank. The brick structure was cleaned and tuck-pointed to secure the exterior. New custom double-hung wood windows took the place of old ones, but screens could not be used because the original windows had none.
Functional additions include a parking lot and water retention basin, which is required in order to preserve water quality. In addition, a short black iron fence was added to deter geese that would walk up the banks of the Cedar River.
Per Hobart’s original plans for the building, commercial leases are taking off in the lower level and main floor. Synergy Massage opened a studio in the lower level before the flood of 2016. Several businesses are on the docket for the rest of the available space on the main floor. An artisan jeweler plans a workshop there, and other professional services companies have expressed interest in the space. A yoga studio will occupy a bright, open space on the east side of the building, where the original, ornate safe door remains in place.
The build-out for four businesses began in February, and most of the businesses are expected to occupy their new spaces this year.

Paarmann, Ruth. “Mott Lofts: Where Past & Present Meet.” Lure of the City. April 2017:30, 39. Print.