The more we learn about the Iowa City Council’s selection of The Chauncey as the preferred development at College and Gilbert streets, the greater our dismay. The project is inconsistent with Iowa City’s comprehensive plan and is an unnecessarily risky use of taxpayer funds.
We have particular concern about council’s decision to deal New Pioneer Co-op out of the project.
The council should negotiate with the developer to include New Pioneer Co-op as the anchor store or assure that New Pi secures a suitable location for expansion in the downtown area. New Pioneer:
l Isn’t dependent on taxpayer funds for financial success. It has no debt and has annual revenue of $24 million; an Iowa City expansion is expected to increase revenue by $6 million.
l Has a 41-year history as a good community citizen. In 2011, New Pi made $71,000 in donations to 185 groups.
l Brings shoppers to the center of the city. The co-op has 26,000 members. Market studies anticipate an expanded store would annually generate 250,000 customer visits.
l Provides good jobs. It has 190 employees; expansion will add 30 jobs. New Pi strives to maintain 70 percent to 75 percent of its positions as full-time and provides a comprehensive benefits package to full-time employees.
l Supports growth of small businesses. An expanded store would boost purchases from local farmers and producers to $500,000.
If the council disregards New Pioneer as an important economic and cultural member of the community, the co-op will invest its expansion resources elsewhere.
Comments are closed.