More than a dozen trees, including an American sycamore estimated to be at least a century old, have been reduced to a pile of wood chips to make way for a new office building in northeast Cedar Rapids.
The development, at 2218 First Ave. NE, also included demolition of the historic Ely house, built in 1916 for John M. and Laurel Ely, descendants of the Ely family, pioneers in the early years of Cedar Rapids. The home was eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
Learn more about the home and other demolitions on First Avenue.
According to Marion-based Trees Forever, sycamores — with characteristic white bark — often grow to be 60 to 100 feet tall, and sometimes larger.
The trees’ large leaves provide ample shade, reducing energy costs for homes and businesses, and during heavy rains, the sycamore’s tree canopy slows the downpour, therefore reducing flooding, the group notes.
Other trees also were removed, including towering pines that were home to a wide variety of birds and other wildlife.
The development, said to become a dental office, is located next to the Blair House condominiums, site of another Ely mansion that previously was eliminated in a controlled burn, with only the colored stone wall remaining.
The clear-cutting of the site’s trees continues a string of tree removals in the city.