116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CORALVILLE - Take a good look at Forevergreen Road as it stretches from Interstate 380 to Highway 965 because changes are coming.
'I think people are not even going to recognize that because so much is going to change,” said Coralville City Administrator Kelly Hayworth.
At the beginning of November, road work to open Forevergreen Road from a newly-completed interchange on I-380 eastward to Highway 965 was done. The road - which feeds into Tiffin on the west and to North Liberty and Coralville to the east - will feed those communities with increased traffic, especially from commuters seeking to avoid construction at the junction of interstates 80 and 380.
And with that increased traffic will come development, leaders in those cities say.
'We're going to see this area be a hot area for development,” said North Liberty City Administrator Ryan Heiar.
Coralville has had big plans for the area served by Forevergreen Road and Highway 965 - also known as Coral Ridge Avenue - for more than five years since putting together a master plan for the west side of town, Hayworth said.
'We always knew when that interchange opened up we were going to see significantly more demand, and I think that's what you're going to see coming up,” he said.
Hayworth said he anticipates a 'wide mix” of development ranging from residential to commercial and office to industrial. He anticipates industrial development likely will occur closer to the I-380 interchange with Forevergreen Road and be attractive to companies looking for quick access to the interstate to the west or Highway 6 to the south.
Kansas Avenue and Jones Boulevard will both be extended south from Forevergreen Road, also opening up more land for development.
'I think what you'll see, there'll be an enormous amount of new housing, both in North Liberty and Coralville,” Hayworth said.
Some housing developments already are taking shape. Hayworth said dirt work just south of Forevergreen Road has begun to clear the way for the Redhawk development, a 10-building, 360-unit residential project along Coral Ridge Avenue.
Existing businesses also will benefit from the new interchange, Hayworth said. Over the years, companies that have looked to move to University of Iowa Research Park have inquired about the ability to access I-380 quickly.
'They've always asked about that ... will there be an ability to get on 380 and more directly, and now we can tell them, ‘Definitely yes,'” Hayworth said. 'It's open.”
Coralville also has plans for a more than 100-acre park south of Forevergreen Road that will feature wetland areas known as fens.
'It's beautiful land, heavily wooded,” Hayworth said.
North Liberty hopes to go to bid this winter on a project that will bring water and sewer service to about 600 acres of land near the Forevergreen Road/I-380 interchange and prepare that area for development, said Heiar.
That work is expected to be finished next fall and the city is keeping developers up to date on the progress.
'I think adjacent to the interchange we'll have some commercial,” Heiar said. 'The farther away you get from that interchange, we'll see mixed-use and residential. The farther in on Forevergreen Road, you'll see residential as well.”
North Liberty already has made improvements in the area to attract businesses, such as paving Kansas Avenue last year. With Forevergreen Road now open, that provides access points to a business park off Kansas Avenue that already includes GEICO and GreenState Credit Union.
'It's just an ideal location in terms of interstate access and visibility,” Heiar said.
Closer to Highway 965, the University of Iowa recently got the go-ahead from a Board of Regents facilities committee to purchase 22 undeveloped acres adjacent to 38 acres of land it has owned for nearly a decade.
The UI told regents it would present plans next year outlining what it intends to build there. Heiar said he's not aware of what those plans are, but hopes they spur more development.
'If the university does something there, that could be a catalyst,” he said.
In terms of immediate impacts, Heiar said he is hopeful the new Forevergreen Road interchange takes pressure off the Penn Street interchange, which often acts as a bottleneck.
'That area has been difficult for quite some time,” he said.
For years, drivers on I-380 could look west to Tiffin and see land ripe for development, said Tiffin City Administrator Doug Boldt.
'It's not hard to look over there and see that something is happening,” Boldt said, mentioning two schools that have already been built. 'Tiffin is getting a lot of looks for commercial development, some big-box development and some residential development that's in that same area.”
With infrastructure being put in to support that development and Forevergreen Road providing access, Tiffin is ready to turn those looks into something more.
'Within the next five years, we hope that we are just able to build off the looks and the inquiries we're getting now,” Boldt said. 'As one building goes up, the hope is there's a second building, a third, a fourth and so on.”
More than 400 acres of land have been accumulated in recent years to make way for a 265-acre mixed-use project right by the Forevergreen Road interchange. Known as Park Place, the project is set to include apartments, houses, hotels, offices and restaurants. Boldt said he hopes the project becomes a 'destination spot” for shopping, socializing, eating and staying overnight.
'We think it's going to bring people to the community, one way or another,” Boldt said.
The Forevergreen Road also creates another front door to Tiffin that not only invites development, but makes commuting easier for city residents who work in Cedar Rapids.
'They can jump right on 380 and head north,” he said.
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