116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CORALVILLE — Twelve acres at the corner of First Avenue and Second Street in Coralville — a “gateway” to the city — are being rezoned to make way for a mixed-use development.
The Coralville City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the third and final reading of an ordinance rezoning the land, as well as a master site plan for the Gather Iowa development. Council member Mike Knudson was absent but had voted in favor of the rezoning at two earlier readings.
The Gather Iowa mixed-use development features multifamily housing, retail and restaurants.
Concerns have been raised about the plan possibly displacing existing minority-owned businesses and the people who live in 34 affordable housing units.
At Tuesday’s meeting, council members and the mayor said they are working with the developer on solutions to address those concerns. The council reiterated its support for “true affordability” in the development for both residential and commercial entities and said the developer understands this priority.
“When we put our heads together — staff, council, community members and also the developer — we can come up with a solution that lifts everybody,” council member Hai Huynh said.
Rezoning is the first step to redevelopment. Specific design elements remain to be worked out — including landscaping and building design — as well as affordability.
The proposal will need to go through an additional approval phase when the site plan is presented.
“The conversation is headed in the right direction,” Mayor Meghann Foster said. “I'm grateful that we have someone that's willing to engage in the creative problem solving with this.”
Dallas-based Rael Development Corp. is working on the plan with Chicago-based BKV Group and local firm Shive-Hattery.
A BKV Group landscape concept highlights amenities, including a fire lounge, outdoor dining, entertainment zone, pools, outdoor kitchen and spa. Some 905 parking stalls are proposed, with 568 of those in a parking structure.
The 12 acres of land are part of a larger 17-acre site called the southeast commercial area, which is in a prime location along the Coralville strip.
But City Administrator Kelly Hayworth has previously noted problems and “a lot of efforts” in redeveloping the area over the past eight to 10 years.
Some of the difficulties include it being in a flood plain, replacing streets and other infrastructure and relocating a utility line that cuts across the site.
Foster said all those concerned understand affordability is a priority for the development area.
“When we talk about economic development, this is a really important part of that, making sure that those businesses can grow and thrive and stay,” Foster said.
Developers “understand that the next phases of this project are going to be contingent on maintaining some of that affordable residential and commercial space,” she added. “I’m feeling much better about where we are at with this.”
Ideas shared during Tuesday’s work session discussion included swapping city-owned land for land in the southeast corner to create a mixed-use project with housing and commercial space for local businesses.
Other options are to set aside a set number of units as affordable housing or add more housing density to the development. A combination of the ideas is also possible.
Over the next few weeks, the developer will look at costs and what would be possible, including how much space is on that southeast corner, Hayworth said.
The developer will present a detailed site plan application to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission and then to the City Council. This plan will include design elements, building forms, materials and landscaping.
Affordability will likely be included in the next submittal and be part of a development agreement, with the City Council likely weighing in again.
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