Iowa City council narrows development options

3 projects remain for parcel on downtown's edge

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IOWA CITY — The Iowa City Council clearly is thinking big and different when it comes to picking a developer to build on the corner of College and Gilbert streets.

For weeks, officials have been scrutinizing proposals to build on the city-owned land at the northeast corner of the intersection, which is on the edge of downtown and is mostly vacant except for an electrical substation and an old building.

Tuesday night, the council whittled a list of five proposals down to three. Eliminated were the smallest project, a five-story building from Ryan Companies/Iceberg Development, and a 13-story building from Sherman Associates that included 11 floors of rental units.

Council members said the five-story building was too small and the other lacked owner-occupied housing. With downtown near the University of Iowa campus, the city is trying to get away from housing aimed at students.

The council wants to “think outside the box, bring something new to downtown,” member Susan Mims said.

The three projects that remain are:

  • Chauncey Gardens: A $47 million, 18-story building including the New Pioneer Co-op on the first floor, one floor of retail, two floors of office space, one floor of resident amenities and 13 floors of residential units.

  •  The Chauncey: A $53.8 million, 20-story building with two movie theaters, a bowling alley and cafe on the first floor, two floors of office space, a 35-room hotel and 12 floors of residential units.
  •  4 Zero 4 Development: A $29 million, eight-story building including New Pioneer Co-op and the Bike Library on the first floor, two floors of office space and five floors of apartments.

All of the developers say they will ask for financial assistance from the city, likely in the form of tax increment financing. 4 Zero 4 has indicated it will seek $5.5 million, Chauncey Gardens $12 million and The Chauncey $13.45 million.

The city and the National Development Council, a New York City-based non-profit organization the city consults with, will perform an analysis to determine what they consider to be the appropriate amount of public assistance.

The council will again take up the matter at its Jan. 8 meeting. In the meantime, city staff is to develop a model to help the council pick a preferred developer with whom to enter into negotiations. 

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