It is with concern that I have followed Iowa City Council’s discussions regarding the proposed building at Gilbert and College streets.
First, it is disturbing that a request for proposals would not include a requirement for sustainable construction. While the expense of LEED certification may not be necessary, LEED equivalent goals could still be met judged by city inspectors.
Furthermore, it seems that the council has lost sight of its own vision statement: “As Iowa City grows, we will strive to preserve the character and identity of the community while guiding the creation of compatible new areas … .”
Look at the new high rise on the PedMall, opposed by many not only because of tax increment financing (TIF) funding, but because it is entirely unsuited to its surroundings. Look at the building replacing the Red Avocado — a fortress with no setback, no redeeming characteristics. Are these buildings preserving the character and identity of the community?
Is Iowa City to become a city of canyons without eye appeal or drawing power? Hallmarks of admired cities such as Paris, Madrid and Washington are wide boulevards and mid-rise buildings. For a vibrant community with more engaging attractions, fine ambience, healthier trees and vegetation, let in the light.
Let’s put our high rises on the periphery of downtown, for instance in the new Riverfront Crossing district. Save our historic aspects — views of Old Capitol from surrounding heights, the Iowa River, the courthouse, for example. Expand the PedMall, provide underground parking, plant more trees.
Where is the creative vision for a sustainable, attractive city of culture and literature?