CORALVILLE – A developer wants to construct two buildings worth at least $6.6 million each along Fifth Street in Coralville – a section of town that could look drastically different in just a couple of years.
Blue Sky Developers Inc., run by Robert B. Thomas of Iowa City, plans to put up one building south of Fifth Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues and another immediately to the east.
Each would have about 18,000 square feet of commercial or retail space on the ground floor and four floors of residential condominiums above, according to the city of Coralville.
“This could be a huge success,” City Administrator Kelly Hayworth said.
The Coralville City Council is to vote Feb. 11 on entering into an agreement with Blue Sky Developers for the project, part of which would be on city-owned land.
The city would sell the land for $1. That nominal fee is justified because the two buildings would add to the city’s tax base, help with urban renewal efforts and require no investment from the city, Hayworth said.
Part of the property was a mobile home park more than a decade ago but now is mostly vacant besides a small commercial building and a home owned by the city. Those buildings would be demolished to make way for the project, Hayworth said.
Just to the east, also south of Fifth Street, work has begun on a $24 million redevelopment of property damaged in the 2008 flood. Watts Development Group is putting up more than 150 housing units, 10,000 square feet of commercial space and public areas on 20 acres in what is called “Old Town” Coralville.
Also, West Bank is building a new bank just southwest of the Blue Sky Developers project. Those areas do not flood.
The two Blue Sky buildings would help the city with its goal of connecting new development between the Iowa River Landing district near Interstate 80, Old Town and the Town Center development to the west on Fifth Street, Hayworth said.
“It’s a really big deal for us for several reasons,” he said.
Plans call for the first building to be finished by October 2015. The agreement with the city says work on the second building would have to start withing 18 months of that.
Thomas did not immediately return a message seeking comment Friday.