Moen downtown project receives grant from Iowa City

IOWA CITY – The City Council Tuesday night OK’d a $250,000 grant to a project that officials hope will help spark redevelopment downtown.

The council voted 7-0 in support of the tax increment financing deal with developer Marc Moen.

Moen has purchased for the former Vito’s bar building, 118 E. College St., and wants to put a national retailer on the first floor and high-end office space on the second floor. Jeff Davidson, the city’s planning and community development director, said Tuesday that Moen recently has had interest in retailers wanting both floors.

With the 21-only bar law and other efforts changing the atmosphere downtown, city and business leaders hope to expand the retail and office space in the district. Moen’s project is one of the first to attempt that.

“This is exactly what we want to see in the downtown,” council member Regenia Bailey said.

Moen has cautioned that working with national stores is a long process and it may take a couple of years or more before one moves into the space.

Moen estimates his expenses at $2 million. The $250,000 from the city would go toward adding an elevator and replacing the roof and the heating, ventilation and air conditioning units.

The city estimates the redeveloped property will generate $31,250 more annually in property taxes than it does now. That $31,250 increment would go back to the project over eight years.

Such deals are opposed by some people who see them has an unnecessary tax break for developers. No one spoke against the project at Tuesday’s meeting.

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