If a local businessman has his way, more buildings along First Avenue in Cedar Rapids could soon be torn down to make way for new storefronts. The buildings in question include the China Inn, the former Music Loft location, and several vacant houses that were converted into apartments.

Businessman John Khairallah, who started Zio Johno's and owns Via Sofia's, says that he'd tear down the old buildings and replace it with a new brick building to improve the look of the block. China Inn would relocate to the old Xavier's Pizza location two doors down. Khairallah has owned The China Inn since 2001 and purchased the other properties in late 2017.

The Cedar Rapids Historic Preservation Commission will review the request for the demolition of the buildings. It could put a 60-day hold on the project but can't outright deny the demolition permits.

Khairallah says he plans to build a single story row of retail space of between nine and ten thousand square feet with parking in the back. The new space would house between five and six new stores.


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