116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Iowa State University is starting work this spring on a $200 million CyTown development and is looking for vendors, retailers and restaurants to eventually fill out the regional destination.
CyTown — unveiled in September and conceived in the image of Titletown, near the Green Bay Packers’ Lambeau Field, and Kansas City’s Power & Light District — aims to develop 135,000 square feet of new construction, including a medical facility, office space, luxury residential suites, retail vendors, restaurants and pubs.
The Iowa Board of Regents recently approved $28.5 million in infrastructure work that will start this spring.
The university last week issued a call for “businesses that have an interest in potentially locating” in CyTown — described as a “unique, year-round mixed-use destination to be built in the heart of the Iowa State Center — between Jack Trice Stadium and Hilton Coliseum.”
The area will include a plaza and amphitheater, according to a Jan. 3 “request for interest” to locate in the development. The response deadline was set for Feb. 28.
“This is not a binding agreement to locate but only a way to notify ISU of your interest,” the ISU documents stated.
A tentative timeline for the multiyear project has the first phase beginning this spring and wrapping in August 2025. Officials have said they’ll cover three-quarters of the $200 million cost with “land monetization opportunities” and the rest with donations and the leasing of 20 CyTown suites.
Billed as an “innovative luxury living opportunity,” the 20 fully furnished one- to two-bedroom units will come with a 10-year lease, balcony, garage and shared club and workout facilities.
“Funding for the parking lot improvements and infrastructure (slated to begin in 2023 with the Iowa Board of Regents approval) will come from university and athletics funds, which will be repaid, over time, by project revenues,” according to an ISU FAQ on the project.
The project’s first phase, according to the brochure, will include four buildings: a three-floor medical clinic; two-floor retail and office site; three-story building for the CyTown suites and retail space; and a fourth building with two floors for food, beverage and retail offerings.
In the end, the project will cover about 40 acres.
Prospective commercial tenants are asked to “provide an overview of your business plan as it relates to locating in CyTown,” according to Iowa State’s request for interest. “Provide information on any unique ideas you may incorporate to be successful in this new area.”
Hinting at efforts to attract vendors that might be new to the area, Iowa State in its brochure touted approximate drive times to places like Omaha, Minneapolis, Kansas City and Chicago. It reported a 640,972 population within a 45-minute drive — making an average household income of $68,469, with an average age of 36.
Within that drive are 254,422 households, 24,813 businesses and 394,712 employees, according to Iowa State, noting its campus this academic year has 29,696 students from all 50 states and 115 countries. Its research park includes 115 companies encompassing 1 million square feet.
“CyTown will create a vibrant entertainment district that runs from campus through the Iowa State Center to the ISU Research Park,” according to the brochure. “This new addition will be a game-changer for the Ames community, providing new amenities to students, faculty, staff, residents, visitors and fans.”
CyTown-enabling infrastructure work about to get underway will include parking lot improvements, relocation of the CyRide Transit Hub and work to raise the site elevation above the 100-year flood plain.
The project would remove $12 million to $15 million in deferred maintenance and improve 4,200 parking stalls for the Iowa State Center and about 2,000 daily commuters.
The project aims to build on nearly $175 million in improvements Iowa State has recently completed to enhance its gateway to campus — including a new $60 million Stark Performance Center; $50 million Sukup End Zone Club; $30 million Albaugh Family Plaza and Concourse; and $14 million RV Village and other parking upgrades.
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
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