Group opposes taxpayer funding for Iowa City project

Developer says 14-story building won't happen without $2.5 million from city

Mark Carlson
Published: June 14 2012 | 8:40 pm - Updated: 31 March 2014 | 8:28 pm in
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A group of Iowa City residents are keeping the pressure on a proposed 14-story building in downtown Iowa City.

The group wants voters to decide if a private developer receives $2.5 million in taxpayer dollars to fund the project.  The group has until July to submit a 700-signature petition, which could bring the funding to a public vote.

"It's just one project after another. Almost every week there is another project where they want to tear something down, or build something in a public place," said Pam Michaud, an Iowa City resident who lives near downtown and is helping to circulate the petition.

Michaud said the group has collected about half of the required signatures.  Marc Moen, the project developer, said if he doesn't receive funding from the city, the project won't happen.

"It's great that people are involved," Moen said.  "But it's unfortunate, because there is no easy solution."

The building, which would be located at 114 S. Dubuque St., would consist of residential units, office space and retail stores.  Michaud said the petitioners feel that the use of tax increment financing, which would be used to fund city's commitment, should be left up to the public.

"The petition is strictly about TIF," said Gary Sanders, an Iowa City resident who is part of the effort to collect the signatures.  "There are some people who might sign it because they don't want the building there, but that is not the issue."

Moen said he has already put about $200,000 into the project.  He plans to fund most of the $11.7 million building.

"(Moen) does a lot of good things," Michaud said. "But I think he has deep enough pockets to fund his own projects."

Two months ago the city passed an agreement to provide the money 6-0.  If the petition is successful, the city could change the agreement so the project is funded through other bonds.  That process would not be subject to a public vote.

"I think it will be a great addition to downtown," said city council member Terry Dickens.

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