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University of Iowa pursuing hotel in place of current University Club building
The University of Iowa this fall will issue a call for proposals to replace the 57-year-old University Club with a new hotel that would serve the nearby golf course, UI Hospitals and Clinics, larger campus, and public.
The request for proposals from third-party developers will seek parties interested in leasing the land along Melrose Avenue, constructing a hotel on that property, and then managing it, University Business Manager David Kieft told the Board of Regents on Wednesday.
'The university will not own or operate the hotel,” he said.
The UI announcement Wednesday of its plans for the soon-to-be-shuttered University Club - which opened as the privately-owned University Athletic Club in 1960 and changed names when UI bought it in 2008 - came as part of the discussion of a new $10 million Finkbine Golf Course Clubhouse.
Regents on Wednesday unanimously approved that project, to be funded entirely with UI Athletics Department funds. The new two-tiered 23,000-square-foot facility will more than quadruple the size of the current 5,400-square-foot clubhouse and bring the venue on par with its peers, establishing the university as a championship-level tournament site capable of hosting NCAA collegiate golf events, according to board documents.
It will include a retail pro shop, full kitchen, banquet event hall, administrative office space, and larger and more equitable men's and women's locker rooms. The new locker rooms will be 450 square feet each, UI officials reported.
The facility will debut a new public restaurant to remain open year-round under the management of a third-party vendor, according to Kieft. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2018, with it wrapping a year later in spring 2019, at which time the old clubhouse will be razed.
'The current 52-year-old facility is outdated, undersized, is not properly accessible, and does not provide the ability to host significant golf tournaments,” Kieft said.
The project, according to UI officials, could increase revenue options and allow the school to vie for more lucrative state and national amateur tournaments, while also hosting more fundraisers and social events.
Budget numbers provided to The Gazette show expenses for both the men's and women's golf teams have ticked up, with costs for the men's program increasing to $448,707 in the 2017 budget year from $428,739 in 2016 and costs for the women's program rising to $565,050 in 2017 from $517,137 in 2016.
The Finkbine revenue and expense budgets have remained fairly steady in recent years, hovering in the $1.2 million to $1.3 million range, according to figures provided to The Gazette.
Although UI officials didn't disclose many details about what they envision for a hotel on the existing University Club site, Kieft said, 'The design of the hotel and the site will seek to maximize coordinated use between the hotel and the new adjacent Finkbine Club House.”
The university in June notified its 400-some University Club members that the historic venue will close in September 2018. Kieft on Wednesday said the university would like to begin work on the new hotel shortly after.