Cedar Rapids Seeks to Demolish about 700 Flood-Damaged Structures

City is taking bids from parties that can demolish homes by the end of this year.

April 8, 2010
CDR Staff
Legislation & Regulations

The City of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, plans to demolish about 700 flood-damaged properties by this fall. Flooding in 2008 damaged hundreds of houses in the city, which required the city to take action to remove the buildings.

This demolition process is being separated into several phases and geographic zones. Each demolition is eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reimbursement, as long as the city follows a 19-point checklist of regulations provided by the federal agency. Ninety-percent of the demolition costs will be covered by FEMA and 10 percent will be covered by the state.

The estimated average cost of the demolition process for each structure ranges between $12,500 and $15,000, including costs for assessment, remediation and demolition.

For the first week of the project, the city began demolishing a group of about 281 residential structures determined to pose an imminent threat to the life, health, property and safety of the public. At the Cedar Rapids City Council’s request, the 32 properties acquired through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program have been added to that demolition contract. The properties are scheduled to be demolished by May 7. All of the “imminent threat” properties currently scheduled for demolition will be complete by the end of this July.

In the coming weeks, the city will request bids for about 50 properties that are too unstable to inspect or to enter to remove possible asbestos materials. Demolitions of this nature must include specific techniques to control any external exposure of the asbestos material. In addition, Cedar Rapids will continue requesting bids for the roughly 350 remaining “imminent threat” properties over the next two months. The properties are scheduled and categorized by quadrant to accommodate the most efficient mobilization of equipment, reduce the impact on traffic flow and reduce the logistics costs of the project. All 700 demolitions are expected to be complete by fall 2010.

Throughout this process, the city will continue to contact property owners to confirm permission to demolish flood-damaged structures. Every property owner has the right to rescind permission or delay the demolition of his or her property.

The city has confirmed with FEMA, Iowa Department of Economic Development and Iowa Homeland Security & Emergency Management that the cost to demolish these properties will not affect the pre-flood assessed value of the properties, be considered a duplication of benefits are affect the City’s buyout offers.

To demolish a property that is determined to be structurally unsafe or environmentally hazardous, the city must follow these steps:

1. Receive Signed Permission

2. Environmental Assessment

3. Lab results provided in seven to ten days

4. Pre-Visual Inspection

5. Environmental Hazard Notification to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, if necessary

6. Environmental Remediation and Abatement, if necessary

7. Post-Visual Inspection

8. Documentation Finalized

9. Demolition Notification to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources

10. Utility Shut-Offs

11. Demolition