April 12, 2023

By Matthew Patane
The Gazette

Dupaco Community Credit Union has opened its first branch in Marion, but also closed an office in downtown Cedar Rapids.

The Dubuque-based credit union first announced it would build the Marion branch, 5970 Carlson Way, in July 2017. Dupaco has described the Marion branch as a “full-service learning lab” that has services to teach customers how to better handle their finances.

The 7,140-square-foot building is one of the first in an under-construction development called Squaw Creek Crossing, at the northeast corner of Highways 13 and 151 in Marion.

Future operator anticipates opening by end of year at East Town Crossing

October 29, 2019

January 24, 2018

January 16, 2020

Daisy's Garage, Scooters Coffee expanding to Marion

Daisy's Garage plans Marion expansion

Construction underway on Holiday Inn Express and Suites, Marion's fourth hotel

By Marissa Payne
The Gazette

MARION — The future operator of a new Holiday Inn Express and Suites being built in east Marion on the site of the city’s first large-scale mixed-use development anticipates opening doors to guests by the end of the year.

Cora Lahr, chief operating officer for Omaha-based Hart Family Hotels — the future hotel operator that currently manages six Iowa hotels — said Monday that construction started late last fall at East Town Crossing, formerly named Squaw Creek Crossing, located at Highways 13 and 151. It will be Marion’s fourth hotel.

“We’re grateful for the project because it helps to meet a big need in our city,” Mayor Nick AbouAssaly said in a statement. “Experts have told us that a city the size of Marion can support several more hotels. As our city grows and becomes more of a destination, especially with the developing sports tourism, we need additional hotel space to accommodate visitors and provide them with the opportunity to stay right here in Marion.”

East Town Crossing, which began development in 2017, contains more than 20 acres including retail, commercial, hospitality and residential projects. The development already hosts businesses including Kwik Star, Dupaco Credit Union, Pancheros, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Pizza Ranch, the MAC, Scooter’s Coffee and a Daisy’s Garage restaurant. Some multifamily rentals already are online, with more proposed in a third building.

Hotel will be Marion’s fourth. Lahr said crews are framing the hotel’s fourth floor as much of the exterior is up. She said crews soon will start on stone work outside, and part of the parking lot is poured. Plumbing and electrical work is taking place throughout the property, windows will be installed this week and the roof likely will be added in the next few weeks.

Once complete, the 93-unit hotel will offer a variety of room type with 55-inch TVs and amenities including a swimming pool, fitness room and breakfast.

Hart Family Hotels owner Troy Hart said the hotel’s development is being fueled by overnight guests being drawn by the Prospect Meadows Sports Complex nearby, the East Town Crossing development offering an array of amenities, and the proximity to highways at that location. “We’re super excited to get open and serve Marion and the guests,” Hart said.

With only three other hotels in Marion, Hart said his company felt Marion was underdeveloped in hotels as most demand goes to northern Cedar Rapids. Several hotels are located on Collins Road NE in Cedar Rapids.

Marion’s other hotels are TownePlace Suites by Marriott and Marion Motel, both on Seventh Avenue, and Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Marion/Cedar Rapids on Dyer Avenue.

A city with Marion’s population typically would have seven to 10 hotels, but it’s “easier for developers to choose Cedar Rapids,” Hart said. His company hopes to potentially build another hotel in Marion in the coming years.

Hotel spurring interest in remaining lots. Last week, Marion Finance Director Lianne Cairy said with the hotel under construction, the overall site’s developer East Town Crossing Inc. brought forth a request to assign a development agreement for the hotel site to Hart Family Hotels. The City Council approved that Thursday.

This comes after the city last year changed its agreement with the developer of East Town Crossing to split one agreement into three, including a separate agreement with the hotel developer.

In 2019, hotel construction was estimated at $11 million, but when the developer applied for public incentives, costs spiked to $17.5 million. With business travel down through 2022 as a result of the pandemic, council documents stated the “short-term reduction in revenue has great impact on our ability to attract qualified equity investors.”

The modified agreement, approved last April by the Marion City Council, removed the hotel lot and three lots with no projects identified. Those unbuilt lots were placed under a memorandum of understanding for possible future action as project plans firm up.

It also extended the new agreement to a maximum of 20 years at a 50 percent tax increment financing rebate if the hotel is built. Marion reduced its incentives from $9.6 million to $7.5 million based on updated estimates for the development.

The new agreement specifically for the hotel, with developer BraveHart Development in partnership with Hart Family Hotels, provided a five-year tax incentive for 90 percent of the increased value the project generates, and another five years at 50 percent — at most a value of $1.5 million.

Under the third agreement for the unbuilt lots at East Town Crossing, terms include a 12-year sliding scale incentive with a maximum incentive of $2.1 million.

Mike Esker, associate real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Hedges, said the recent focus has been on hotel construction. There are no specific plans yet for those unbuilt lots, he said, but “the activity out there has attracted more attention and interest.”

Those lots include a corner lot next to Dupaco, land next to Daisy’s Garage and a lot in front of the hotel.

“There are interested parties and groups that have reached out to us that we are discussing the remaining lots with,” Esker said.

June 21, 2022

Pancheros headed for Marion's plate

Marion revamps agreement with East Town Crossing Developers

By: Richard Pratt - 

The city of Marion has revamped its agreement with the developer of the East Town Crossing project, at the intersection of Highways 13 and 151 on the city’s eastern edge.

The revamped plan splits a single agreement into three, including a separate new agreement with the developer of the proposed Holiday Inn Express at the site.

City manager Ryan Waller said the revamped development plan for the area, unanimously approved by the city council at its regular meeting April 6, will simply administration and understanding of the agreements by removing the hotel lot and three unbuilt lots, extending the new agreement to 20 years at a 50% incentive if the Holiday Inn Express hotel is built, and removing the usage of hotel/motel funds in favor of tax increment financing (TIF), allowing hotel/motel funds to be used for other community-wide projects.

The main agreement with Squaw Creek Crossing Inc. the primary developer of the East Town Crossing project, only includes development that has occurred or is actively occurring at East Town, Mr. Waller said. It also reduces the total city incentive from $9.6 million to $7.5 million, based on estimates for known projects at the development.

A new, separate development agreement has been reached with Bravehart Development and Hart Family Hotels for the hotel project. The new agreement, which can be assigned to a separate hotel developer if needed, provides a new five-year tax incentive for 90% of the extra value created by the project, and another five years at 50%, with a maximum value of $1.5 million.

Mr. Waller said the hotel developer indicated the hotel project was not feasible without an additional incentive, due to rising construction costs, and recently submitted an application for financial assistance to the city.  In 2019, the hotel project was estimated at $11 million, but at the time of application, the cost had risen to $17.5 million.

Plans currently call for the 93-unit Holiday Inn Express to be substantially completed by the end of 2025, Mr. Waller said.

And a third agreement, a memorandum of understanding, has been established for three unbuilt lots at East Town Crossing, lots where development plans haven’t yet been solidified. It uses the same terms as the former amended development agreement, including a 12-year sliding scale incentive with a maximum benefit of $1.2 million.

“The advantage of the MOU is that it does not lay out payment phasing as a formal development agreement does,” Mr. Waller said via email. “This gives us flexibility in timing with the understanding that an Urban Renewal Amendment Process and development agreement would follow.”

All items in the amended development agreement are either completed or underway with the exception of the last of three multi-residential apartment buildings at the development. Mr. Waller said the property owner and lead project manager for the multi-residential building has passed away, and Squaw Creek Crossing, Inc. is working to track down the heirs. An agreement exists between Squaw Creek Crossing and that developer to ensure the third building is completed, Mr. Waller said.

Squaw Creek Crossing Inc. is actively seeking leads for the unbuilt lots, Mr. Waller added.

East Town Crossing, formerly known as Squaw Creek Crossing, is Marion’s first large-scale mixed-use development, with over 20 acres, including retail, service, hospitality, commercial and residential projects. Development of the project began in 2017.

Businesses in the development include Kwik Star, Dupaco Credit Union, Pancheros, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Pizza Ranch and the MAC. A Scooter’s Coffee opened at the development last fall, and a second location of Daisy’s Garage restaurant is under construction. Two multi-family apartment buildings are also part of the development.

The development has a current taxable valuation of just over $20 million. Another $4.7 million could be added if the lots included in the memorandum of understanding are developed, city officials said, and the hotel would add another $7.1 million.

September 5, 2017

New Store to Celebrate with Grand Opening Event October 14 

Marion, IA, October 3, 2022 – Scooter’s Coffee, best known for its amazingly fast drive-thru, specialty coffee, and baked-from-scratch pastries, added a new location at 1010 62nd Street in Marion, Iowa. To celebrate, the drive-thru location will be hosting a Grand Opening on Friday, October 14, where customers can receive a free drink when they scan with the Scooter’s Coffee mobile app.

With the app, customers earn three “Smiles” for every dollar spent to collect toward free drinks for their loyalty. For quick and convenient ordering, Mobile Order Ahead is also available. Ordering ahead allows customers to customize their drinks in many ways, pay ahead, and pick up quickly at the drive-thru window. 

To pay with the app, customers simply need to link a credit card and tap “Pay in Stores” from the home screen. Then, if they choose to tip, they can select a custom amount or percentage prior to scanning their app. Customers also have the option to pay with cash or a gift card and still earn loyalty through the app by using the “Scan to Earn Loyalty” Only QR code. The app is available for download on the App Store or Google Play.

The drive-thru location is owned and operated by Brent and Carissa Votroubek. "Scooter's Coffee has been more than just a business opportunity for us, it's been gaining a second family,” said Carissa Votroubek. We love the community feel that this franchise has and we can’t wait to serve our amazing customers.”

Read More HERE

September 17, 2019

By Grace King
The Gazette

MARION — Developers of a new hotel in Squaw Creek Crossing hope to attract business and leisure travelers to a Holiday Inn Express, with a tentative opening in February 2021.

The Marion City Council earlier this month approved site plans for a 93-room hotel at the site. The primary developer is Hart Family Hotels of Spencer.

Squaw Creek Development has been marketed as a large-scale, mixed-use development, situated on 20 acres on the northeast corner of Highways 13 and 151.

This past summer, the Prospect Meadows baseball complex opened at County Home Road and Highway 13. Two more sets of four fields are planned for 2023.

The facility will cater to local leagues and weekend tournaments. The primary tenant is Perfect Game USA, a Cedar Rapids baseball scouting company that has committed to bringing in 1,000 teams a year for the next 14 years.

Prospect Meadows will add demand for hotel rooms, said Mike Esker, Squaw Creek Crossing development partner.

“It’s a good fit with Prospect Meadows, open now, and will accommodate the anticipated numbers coming in,” he said.

A study conducted by Consultants Hospitality Marketers International in 2015 showed Marion needed a 100-room hotel that catered to business and leisure travelers. The study was commissioned by the city for $16,500.

Dave Hockett, principal planner with the city, said with Prospect Meadows and other development planned for Squaw Creek Crossing, it’s “just the perfect storm” to add another hotel.

“A lot of folks are finally realizing Marion is on the map,” he said.

The City Council initially approved a Country Inn and Suites last year, but changed direction when Hart Family Hotels said it could get the city a “better brand,” said Troy Hart, with Hart Family Hotels.

With only three hotels within Marion city limits, Hart said a lot of people with business in Marion end up staying in Cedar Rapids instead.

“We feel like many of those customers would prefer to be in Marion, and we’re going to offer that opportunity to them,” he said.

The hotel will create 25 jobs. Hart Family Hotels is investing $3 million and borrowing the rest. Hart said the company expects to break ground in April 2020.

Earlier this year, a Pizza Ranch FunZone Arcade, managed by Lion Development Group, was approved to move in to Squaw Creek Crossing. It is expected to open in the spring and create up to 90 jobs.

Last year, Dupaco Community Credit Union opened its first branch in Marion in the Squaw Creek Development, at 5970 Carlson Way.

October 3, 2022

April 13, 2020

March 12, 2024

By Elijah Decious
The Gazette

MARION — Daisy’s Garage and Filling Station, a longtime staple in Cedar Rapids, is expanding soon to Marion.

An associate for the restaurant posted a photo to social media showing the new site in Marion under construction at what appears to be a lot near the intersection of U.S. Highway 151 and Iowa Highway 13.

A sign on the lot advertises that Scooter’s Coffee will be coming soon to the same lot under construction, too.

No details are available on the timeline for the new Daisy’s Garage or the new Scooter’s.

Both brands, one local and one national, have been expanding quickly.

Last year, Daisy’s Garage doubled its square footage at its Edgewood Road NE location with a renovation. Owner Jade Luter opened Kingston’s Steakhouse at the old Butcher Block space in September, followed by Cruz’s Cafe in the old Riley’s Cafe space next door in December.

Scooter’s has been opening multiple locations across the Corridor rapidly over the past two years.

By Corridor Business Journal

The former Squaw Creek Crossing mixed-use development at the intersection of Highways 13 and 151 in Marion is now known as East Town Crossing.

The development’s new name was unveiled Friday by Coldwell Banker Hedges, the site’s primary real estate developer.

In a news release, Coldwell Banker Hedges said they renamed the development, which took root in 2017, because they “wanted to create a welcoming environment to all in the area.”

“East Town Crossing is a name that reflects belonging and stands as the eastern gateway to Marion,” the developer said in the release. “Those that are new to the area, along with existing residents, can now see East Town Crossing as a symbol of Marion’s welcoming and vibrant community.”

The change comes after the Linn County Board of Supervisors voted in September to change the name of the 998-acre Squaw Creek Park, off Highways 100 and 13 in Marion, to Wanatee Park after Native American leaders raised concerns about the origins of the term “squaw.”

“The conservation board supports a spirit of inclusion for everyone, and a name that is derogatory and widely accepted as a slur should no longer be validated,” Dennis Goemaat, executive director of Linn County Conservation, said in a release about the park’s name change.

East Town Crossing currently includes Dupaco Community Credit Union, Kwik Star, and a retail strip featuring Pancheros Mexican Grill, Pizza Ranch Fun Zone Arcade and Jersey Mike’s Subs. There is also a multi-family housing project underway.

New Hotel Planned for Marion's Squaw Creek Crossing

Pizza Ranch Announced as Newest Tenant in Squaw Creek Crossing

Marion Economic Development Corporation

Progress is now underway at two high profile locations near US 151 and Highway 13. Last week contractors broke ground for a new multi-family housing project at Squaw Creek Crossing. Additionally, the new Victory Sports Center is now under construction. This 19,000 square foot facility will be home to multiple Ninja Warrior skill level courses, warp walls, rock climbing wall, and trampoline park. The project is owned by Eric & Stephanie Phillips of Victory Gymnastics Training Center.

February 15, 2021

The First Street is in!

Marion development renamed East Town Crossing

Analysis: Hiring is tough in Iowa - and getting tougher

2015 hotel study showed city needs 100-room hotel for business, leisure travelers

Marion Economic Development Corporation

Squaw Creek Crossing, Marion’s first large-scale mixed-use development, will become home to a new Pizza Ranch FunZone Arcade, managed by Lion Development Group. The restaurant, to be located at 6053 Carlson Way, will occupy 7,600 square feet with seating for up to 234 people.

The FunZone Arcade will include a 1,500 square foot game room with state-of-the-art arcade systems. Pizza Ranch currently operates 208 locations in 14 states. The new Marion restaurant will be one of only eighteen FunZone Arcades. The location will also include four party rooms accommodating groups of up to 76.

“Marion is a place I’ve wanted to come to for quite a while. I know there’s a huge need in this area with easy highway access and traffic to Prospect Meadows,” says Brandon Pratt, Restauranteur & Real Estate Investor for Lion Development Group. “Our main demographic is family and children and the amount of people this area will generate really just made sense to us. It’s going to be a very different Pizza Ranch than Marion is used to.”

The company plans to hire 80-90 staff members. Applicants can apply now at http://careers.pizzaranch.com/ or by emailing marion@pizzaranch.com. Construction is now underway and anticipated to be completed in Spring 2020. Pratt and Lion Development own and operate seven Pizza Ranch locations in Iowa and Illinois including locally, the SW Cedar Rapids location (which is currently expanding to incorporate a FunZone and adding 90 more seats) and a brand-new Pizza Ranch in Iowa City with a similar FunZone model.

By Quentin Mendlik
Iowa News Now

Fresh-Mex chain Pancheros appears to be heading to the east edge of Marion.

A new Pancheros Mexican Grill will be going into a new retail center on Carlson Way in Squaw Creek Crossing, according to the city of Marion's December Community Development department report.

Known for its made-to-order foods and fresh-pressed tortillas, Pancheros started out with an Iowa City restaurant in 1992. Since then, it has expanded to more than 70 locations, and is expanding rapidly with more suburban locations, and through more franchisee-owned stores.

The Marion Pancheros is expected to open in early April, weather-permitting. It will be a corporate-operated location, rather than a franchised one, a company spokeswoman said.

Pancheros typically leases 2,000 to 2,500-square-foot end-cap spaces in strip centers with outdoor patio seating. A strip center under development in Squaw Creek Crossing is slated for an early spring completion, according to the Marion building report, with Pizza Ranch as the only announced tenant, and two additional restaurant spaces planned.