Iowa City councilors want to see workforce housing, sustainability and a building that will set the tone for future developments downtown and fit in with Iowa City’s culture in the empty space at the intersection of College and Gilbert streets in Iowa City.
The Iowa City Council heard proposals Monday night from five finalists competing for the chance to develop a multi-use building on the east edge of downtown. Though the city originally received nine proposals for the land, a committee of city staff and two city councilors narrowed the entries to five finalists earlier this fall.
During the work session, councilors expressed concern over sustainability efforts, how much residential space would be devoted to workforce housing, and whether the height and look of the building would fit in with the city or set the tone for future projects.
Each developer’s building varies in height, from five to 20 stories, and all but one plans to incorporate New Pioneer Co-op, which previously expressed interest in re-locating their store to a larger location.
All five plans include some form of residential space, varying between workforce housing, one and two bedroom apartments, one and two bedroom condos and efficiencies. Each ranges in price from $16.5 to $53.8 million and all five proposals plan to acquire financial assistance from the city through tax-increment financing and similar sources. Some proposals include unique amenities, such as a focus on energy efficiency, movie theaters, a hotel, and community gardens. All five developers also expressed a commitment to making their building LEED certified (energy efficient) on some level Monday night.
The city is also currently accepting input from the public via email at email@example.com. Thus far, email responses from the community have been split with some in support of new entertainment options downtown provided by the Chauncey Project, and others prioritizing energy efficiency.
Other emails also expressed support for creating workforce housing and concern over whether a high rise building would overpower other buildings in the area.
Iowa City Mayor Matt Hayek addressed each of those issues during the presentations, asking developers what portion of housing they hope to set aside for the workforce, why or why not they decided to incorporate office space — and whether each firm was confident they would be able to fill that space. He also brought up community concern over developer Marc Moen’s plan, The Chauncey, which would bring another high rise to Iowa City.
Councilor’s questions focused on specific development plans, and did not express whether they were interested or disinterested in any of the proposals
The public can provide comment in-person at a Dec. 4 council meeting, and will continue to accept email feedback until Dec. 10.
The council could choose a developer as early as Dec. 18., but Hayek said it will likely be a tough decision for the council to make.
“We have five compelling choices before us, and I think this will be a very difficult decision,” Hayek said. “But no matter what we go with, we will see a vast improvement to that area and a great addition to downtown.”
John Yapp, director of transportation for Iowa City and the city’s point person on the project, said construction for the project will likely begin nine months to a year from now, possibly starting in fall of 2013 or early 2014.
About the proposals
Project contacts: George Sherman, President of Sherman and Associates and Jackie Nickolaus, Vice President of Sherman and Associates
Details: 13-story building, LEED Certified, with New Pioneer Co-op on first floor, one floor of office space, 11 floors of workforce housing, a six-story building with the co-op on the first floor and five floors of residential is also an option
Details: 18-story building on the south side of Chauncey Park, New Pioneer Co-op on first floor , one floor of retail, two floors of office space, one floor of resident amenities, 13 floors of studion, one- and two-bedroom residential units (with a percentage set aside for workforce and elderly housing), LEED certified construction, ampitheater and sculpture garden in Chauncey Park, community gardens, wine garden on the roof of the building, terraces, synergy with the New Pioneer Co-op and Farmer’s Market
Details: 20-story building, two movie theaters to support FilmScene, cafe on the first floor that overlooks Chauncey Garden, two floors of office space, 35-room hotel, 12 floors of studio, one-and two-bedroom residential units, two six-lane bowling allies (one casual, one upscale), exterior roof garden, space in Chauncey Park for outdoor film screenings
Details: Nine-story building including New Pioneer Co-op and the Bike Library on the first floor, two floors of office space, and five floors of efficiency, one- and two-bedroom apartments, trash and recycling areas, a light well, and a mezzanine area with a teaching kitchen and access to natural light, Platinum LEED Certification
Details: 5-6 story building, New Pioneer Co-op on first floor, four floors of studio, one- and two-bedroom condos, green roof, solar panels, roof-top cistern collection system