Government

North Iowa City development taking shape, highlighted by Foster Road extension

Hearing for rezoning of trailer park, TIF vote on Tuesday's council agenda

Forest View Trailer Court in an aerial photograph in Iowa City on Thursday, July 14, 2016. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Forest View Trailer Court in an aerial photograph in Iowa City on Thursday, July 14, 2016. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — A small mobile home court that sits near Forest View — a trailer park that’s soon to be a $250 million, 70-acre development — could also be replaced with new multifamily structures.

The Iowa City Council on Tuesday will hold a public hearing for the rezoning of almost two acres at 1705 Prairie du Chien Rd., which includes Hawkeye Trailer Court, which was built in the 1960s and houses about nine families, according to council documents.

The council is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in its chambers at city hall, 410 E. Washington St.

If the property is rezoned from a type of single-family residential to a low-density multifamily residential classification, it would be the first step in developers constructing 24 units divided between two buildings, according to concept plans submitted to the city by developer Ross Nusser.

The developer has held a neighborhood meeting for families who would lose the lots they rent for their houses and has notified them of the sale via letter and contacted each household individually, according to council documents.

The Prairie du Chien development is the latest in the string of planned construction north of downtown Iowa City, guided by the city’s North District Plan.

“The idea of the district’s plan is it’s supposed to guide development. It sets expectations both for developers and real estate folks as well as neighbors or residents,” explained Sarah Walz, assistant planner. “It doesn’t mean that things turn out exactly like what’s shown in the plan, but it sets up reasonable expectations for everyone.”

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As part of the city of Iowa City’s comprehensive plan, district plans for various areas around the city act as ”advisory documents” for future change. The city uses them when considering rezoning and subdivision requests to ensure they fit within the surrounding neighborhood, according to the North District Plan.

This district is made up of 1,850 acres in the north part of the city and includes two major access points into the city — Dubuque and Dodge streets.

Also on the city’s Tuesday agenda is the third and final consideration of a Foster Road Tax Increment Financing district, which would allow funds in the area generated by increased property taxes from new developments to help pay for the construction of the extension of Foster Road to Prairie du Chien.

The extension is a development-driven project, meaning that if the development it’s connected to, near Prairie du Chien Road, falls through, so would the extension project, said Ron Knoche, public works director.

“It will open up the possibility of new development in this part of the district. The traffic capacity of an extended Foster Road could accommodate development of small apartments, town houses and single-family homes in this area,” according to the North District Plan.

The development triggering the Foster Road extension is a 53.29 acre subdivision directly to the north of 1705 Prairie du Chien and will include senior housing as well as town house units, according to memo to the council from Walz.

The extension has “been on our unfunded list for quite some time. We’ve looked at it as a need and it’s a great opportunity for us to get another link within our traffic system,” Knoche said.

Just northwest of the existing end of Foster Road at Dubuque Street, immediately south of Interstate 80, will be the 70-acre development of Forest View, where there’s currently another trailer park. North Dubuque LLC and Blackbird Investments will construct a more than $250 million project on the land, which is planned to include commercial, office, restaurant and hotel space, as well as more than 500 residential units, which will be constructed over the next five to seven years.

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Jimmy Becker, project manager for Blackbird Investments, said the organization is going through a rezoning process for the property and he hopes to break ground on the development by the end of the year.

“We’re going to be working on both ends and building inward,” Becker said, adding that developers’ priorities are to build homes for the current Forest View residents and a secondary access road into the land. “As you can imagine, a development of this size takes a village and so this has been a project we’ve been working on for over three years now.”

l Comments: (319) 339-3172; maddy.arnold@thegazette.com

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