CORALVILLE — Federal brownfield dollars have mattered in Coralville, too.
City Engineer Don Holderness marks 27 years on the job in July, and he recalls the 100-plus acres of auto-repair shops, salvage shops, a waste transfer station, adult entertainment venues and all the rest that used to greet motorists coming off Interstate 80 into the city via First Avenue.
It wasn’t pretty.
Today — with the help of a total of $2.27 million in 13 federal brownfield grants — some 90 acres of the old industrial park is the Iowa River Landing development, which features the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, the University of Iowa’s new health care clinic, mixed-use retail and residential buildings and a new Von Maur department store slated to open this summer.
“In my mind, it’s been a 180-degree transformation,” Holderness says. “When the industrial park was built, it served its purpose to bring industry to Coralville and help develop the city at that point in time. But as time has gone on, the City Council has envisioned a better gateway to the city that would provide more activity and jobs not only for the city but the region.
“And I think that’s what’s happening at the Iowa River Landing. … It’s really been transformed into a regional magnet that’s going to provide a lot of options and opportunities.”
Between 1998 and 2013, the city of Coralville received 13 brownfield grants to conduct assessments and perform some cleanup on properties in what now is the Iowa River Landing development.
“Fortunately, there was not a lot of contamination that needed to be addressed,” Holderness says. “The definition of brownfield is either the real or perceived threat of contamination of a site. Even the perception can be enough to hinder the redevelopment of properties.”
He says conducting the environmental assessments was a challenge because the industrial park had some 110 lots with 75 different owners.
“Without this funding to be able to do all these environmental reports for all these individual properties, it would have made it very difficult for us to get to where we are,” Holderness says. “It’s made a world of difference to us.”