Government

Proposed 15-story Iowa City development on hold

Council wants more details on project aimed at student renters

Pentacrest Garden Apartments currently are on the site of a proposed 15-story project between Burlington and Court streets in Iowa City. (Madison Arnold/The Gazette)
Pentacrest Garden Apartments currently are on the site of a proposed 15-story project between Burlington and Court streets in Iowa City. (Madison Arnold/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — A proposal by one of Iowa City’s biggest landlords to build a 15-story development just south of downtown is on hold after an hourlong City Council discussion Tuesday about its height.

The project would go at 12 E. Court Street, between Burlington and Court streets, and calls for North and South Capitol streets to be connected. The development proposes 800 to 1,000 apartments, aimed at college students, as well as other amenities.

The property is owned by 100-500 LLC, which is controlled by the Clark family. The Clarks are major landlords in downtown Iowa City, operating under names such as Apartments Downtown and Apartments at Iowa.

The corporation, which also is the developer, wants the city to rezone the property as a Riverfront Crossings zone, which allows eight stories but says seven additional floors are possible if they contain features that “provide public benefit or further goals and objectives” of the city’s master plan, according to a staff memo sent to council.

“We’re not deciding 15 stories tonight. We are deciding step one, which has been talked about before, which is a minimum of eight stories,” City Council member Rockne Cole said during the meeting. Council members voted 5-1, with Cole opposed, to continue its public hearing and consult with the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission. Council member Mazahir Salih was absent.

“I think it is far too dense,” said Mayor Jim Throgmorton, pointing to other tall structures that recently have been developed, such as The Rise. “The fact that they’re all 15-story buildings is far greater than what we need now.”

Pentacrest Garden Apartments — four buildings with 96 units, according to a city memo — now are at the nearly 3.5-acre site, which is zoned high-density multifamily residential allowing a maximum height of 35 feet.

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While proposed designs aren’t final, Rob Decker of Axiom Consultants said plans call for 15 stories with up to 1,000 units, as well as underground parking, terraces, pools, basketball courts and exercise areas.

“Looking at those pictures, one of the most iconic, historical buildings downtown, besides the Old Capitol, is the courthouse,” said council member Pauline Taylor, “and it’s just dwarfed by those buildings and I find that to be sad.”

The Riverfront Crossings zone requested by the developer comes with multiple requirements, including that 10 percent of units be affordable housing or that the developer pay a fee. Decker said the developer plans to meet that affordable housing requirement.

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

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