116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — The Iowa City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved the first consideration of the latest plan for a senior living facility near Hickory Hill Park.
Council member John Thomas, who did not support the previous plan, said the new plan achieved “designing with nature.” The revised proposal, he said, is a “huge win for Iowa City” in the long term.
“What I learned through this process was how cherished Hickory Hill Park is to the community,” said Thomas, a retired landscape architect. “It’s an extremely important element within the community that has been dramatically strengthened by this project.”
Mayor Bruce Teague said he was happy to see the council unified with the developers and community on the plan.
The updated proposal for rezoning the 48.75-acre plot northeast of the park is scaled back from previous plans and devotes nearly three times more land to the city park.
Hickory Trail Estates, a senior living facility, will be built on 8.85 acres at the southeast corner of the plot. The facility is to have 120 continuing care retirement units with 134 beds.
The development is expected to be fully occupied by 2025, assuming the plan gains final council approval in two more readings.
The remaining nearly 40 acres will be given to the city for public open space and expansion of Hickory Hill Park, increasing the park’s size by about 21 percent, according to the city.
Parks and Recreation staff support the expansion and will consider uses for the parkland during the department’s planning process, according to city staff.
Residents opposed previous plans, which included single-family homes, from Axiom Consultants and Nelson Development. The third iteration of the proposal was ultimately rejected by the Iowa City Council.
The current proposal does not include single-family housing.
Council members Susan Mims and Laura Bergus both expressed support for the plan but said the loss of additional housing was a “missed opportunity.”
“We don’t have a lot of land left to develop in this city, and we need to continue to grow,” Mims said. “The only way we’re going to get some progress on the affordable housing is to build more. … I am disappointed that we lost that opportunity to add 41 houses to our housing stock.”
Council member Pauline Taylor said was reassuring to hear the Friends of Hickory Hill support the revised proposal.
The group’s vice chairman Jason Napoli told the council the added land for the park “is an incredible opportunity” and a responsibility the group will take seriously.
“We do appreciate the developers’ ecological and community mindedness, … and also the need of assisted living and memory care in the local area has been very clear,” Napoli said.
Comments: (319) 339-3155; email@example.com