The closing of The Bohemian is opening up the historic Matyk Building for other potential uses on a highly visible corner of New Bohemia in Cedar Rapids.
Used as a live music venue and restaurant during its time as The Bohemian from March 2021 through last September, the corner landmark, 1029 Third St. SE, is going on the market for $990,000.
“This is unique architecture,” said Monica Vernon, executive director of The District: Czech Village & New Bohemia, citing the Matyk and other historic buildings in the district. “I call them the jewels in our crown.”
Related: New businesses help energize New Bohemia and Czech Village
The two-story building, with a full lower level, was constructed in 1893 for Peter Matyk and his son, Anton’s, P. Matyk & Son dry goods store. The building includes newer additions, with a rooftop lounge.
Like many businesses at the time, often run by Bohemian immigrants, the building owners lived in the upper level while operating their shop below.
New construction has added housing and retail space to the historic district, but Vernon said older structures that provide original character are rare to go on the market.
“I think it’s rather uncommon,” she said, citing the 2020 sale of the 1916-built Hose Station No. 4 among those rare examples. That building, 1111 Third St. SE, now houses the boutique shop Scribe Stationer, with an AirBNB in the upper level.
The Ideal Theatre & Bar, a 1914 former theatre at 213 16th Ave. SE, also was sold recently, in 2022.
Vernon noted the prominent location of the Matyk Building, across 11th Avenue from CSPS Hall, a major attraction as a performance venue in Cedar Rapids, and diagonally from NewBo City Market, which also serves as an events hub.
Another high-traffic stop is just across Third Street, with the popular RAYGUN store located in one of the district’s newer buildings.
Vernon cited three projects underway or with spring groundbreakings planned that will add more than 350 housing units in New Bohemia in the near future, with the need for more amenities for those new residents. Lower-level retail is also planned in the new construction.
“The most important thing is that it gets a productive new use,” said Michael Richards, spokesman for the Richards Family Business Group, eight family members who own the 7,500-square-foot Matyk Building.
Richards envisions some of those potential uses as a retail store to hearken back to its origins, or a law office, architectural office/design studio, marketing and advertising agency, real estate brokerage or day spa/yoga class facility.
He didn’t rule out a partnership to reopen The Bohemian, which was popular for its live jazz music, but said a sale is more likely.
“Any business that wants to be located in a beautiful landmark building are appropriate uses,” Richards added.
The Bohemian abruptly closed in September as Richards said high inflation raised the price of meat and other food essentials, making it difficult for the restaurant to make ends meet. The family is still working on final payments to their employees.
COVID-19 also played a role in the downturn, he said, but because The Bohemian opened after the start of the pandemic, they didn’t qualify for any financial assistance.
Richards acknowledged the business has unpaid bills and pending litigation.
“That’s the specific reason for closing The Bohemian, because we were not producing enough income to pay obligations,” he said. “That is the purpose of courts, to settle such items.”
In the height of its popularity, customers raved about The Bohemian’s music, art and eclectic décor, three levels of seating and tasty smoked meats.
Austin Geasland, agent with listing brokerage Q4 Commercial Real Estate, cited several possibilities for the building, including conversion to a boutique hotel or short term rental with a full kitchen and rooftop patio, or possibly a bed and breakfast concept.
“The historic Matyk Building is an icon located in the heart of the NewBo District,” Geasland noted. “This timeless building is a good fit for a collaboration of small business owners or as a great investment property.”
Built in the late Victorian Romanesque Revival style, the Matyk Building made a statement with its construction of brick, matching red mortar, and limestone, with the family name prominent on the date block, said Cedar Rapids Historian Mark Stoffer Hunter.
“It’s really indicative of how increasingly important this neighborhood was getting,” he said. “It just exudes a lot of confidence. It’s a real sense of pride.”
Stoffer Hunter said the dry goods store remained in business until about 1950, and was followed by a series of other businesses, that were more wholesale than retail, which was the direction of the district at the time.
By the 1990s, in use as an electronics supply company, windows were boarded, plywood covered the front entrance and the red brick had been painted white.
The Richards family purchased the building in 2000, and in subsequent years, removed the white paint from the brick and reopened the front entrance among other work to restore it to its former glory.
“It was a labor of love,” Richards said.
Stoffer Hunter gave credit to Michael Richards and his wife, Lynette, for their work. Before transforming it into The Bohemian, the building was used for making soy wax candles while they lived in the upper level and opened it as an artistic venue for Metro High School students.
“It’s a good early example of historic revitalization in that neighborhood,” he said. “They were true pioneers for restoration.”
Keeping the Matyk Building in use is important, Stoffer Hunter added, as buildings that are architecturally intact are becoming rarities in Cedar Rapids, and the name on the building helps mark the course of immigration in the city.
“It shows the inclusiveness and diversity in the whole pattern of urban development,” he said. “The family proudly put their name on there. It helps preserve a type of personal history.”
For more information about the Matyk Building listing, call Q4 Commercial Real Estate: (319) 294-3339.
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