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Proposed $20 million development in North Liberty would create ‘entertainment district’
Developer asking for partnership with city, which could include TIF incentive
NORTH LIBERTY — A proposed $20 million development in North Liberty would bring various amenities to the growing city and create a “new and very much needed entertainment district” just north of Penn Street.
The proposed development, referred to as Solomon’s Landing, includes a 33,600-square-foot indoor recreation center, as well as a 32,909-square-foot bowling entertainment center with an adjacent Pizza Ranch restaurant.
Brandon Pratt of Lion Development Group told the North Liberty City Council this week the city needs to be a place where residents can “live, work and play.”
“The next step is for the City of North Liberty to now fill the gap of the play component, and equally as important keep those dollars in our community,” Pratt said at the Tuesday meeting.
The nearly nine-acre project sits at the northwest corner of Penn Street and Jones Boulevard and extends west to Saratoga Place. The four parcels of land are owned by Pratt Real Estate Management Inc.
Pratt said the proposal would generate $30 to $40 million of annual spending within North Liberty.
“To make Solomon's Landing entertainment district a reality, we need city assistance and involvement,” Pratt said.
The North Liberty City Council was not required to take action last week but did indicate interest in hearing a more specific financial proposal of how the city can be a partner, potentially moving forward with tax increment financing.
City staff will work with the developer on an economic development agreement that would be subject to council approval.
Indoor recreation center
The proposed indoor sports and recreation center — called The Palestra — will be used for various indoor sports and community events, Pratt said. The Palestra would be located on the west side of the lot at the corner of Saratoga Place and Hayes Lane.
Possible activities include basketball, indoor soccer, football, volleyball, pickleball and wrestling, as well as e-gaming tournaments. Other features could include indoor inflatables, birthday parties and opportunity for seniors to have a place to walk indoors.
Pratt said the building would stay full throughout the week. Weekends would include club sports tournaments, weekdays would have community events and weekday evenings would be filled with local club and school teams.
In addition to the sports area, Pratt said there also is a mezzanine with AstroTurf, office space, bathrooms and a small concession stand.
“The purpose is to attract teams, clubs and people to the city of North Liberty for events and tournaments and then get them into the community to spend the money while they wait for their next event or game,” Pratt said.
The Palestra alone is expected to bring in $30 million of new revenue over the next six or seven years, Pratt said.
Entertainment facility with restaurant
The entertainment facility and Pizza Ranch are to the east of The Palestra with parking in between the buildings, the site plan shows.
There will be 16 “luxury bowling lanes,” with four lanes that will be inside a private area that can be used for work functions, birthday parties and family gatherings, Pratt said.
There also will be a bar area, ax throwing, arcade, billiards and shuffleboard.
“It will be a full fledged family entertainment center that will bring a level of flair and quality that will rival most anything in Iowa and be a draw not just for the city of North Liberty but for many miles,” Pratt said.
The entertainment facility and restaurant to the east will have televisions with live feeds of the games at the recreation center, so families can have meals and drinks but still be able to watch other teams competing.
The parcel of land to the east of the entertainment center and Pizza Ranch is currently undeveloped but is another opportunity to expand the project, Pratt said. Nothing is currently under contract for this area but conversations are happening, he added.
Making North Liberty a ‘destination location’
Council members at the Jan. 24 meeting expressed their interest in the proposal to hear more about what a partnership could look like.
City Administrator Ryan Heiar said the next step is for city staff to work with Pratt and his team on a potential agreement and “get a real understanding of what he's asking for, what he needs and why.”
Council member Brent Smith said Pratt’s presentation was “very impressive.”
Council member RaQuishia Harrington added she is excited to see what could happen with the project. She said having an entertainment area is important for families living in the city.
Harrington added that she would like to see transit options to this area so families and young residents can travel easily.
“You definitely touched base on the fact that North Liberty has been a bedroom community for so long, and we want it to be a destination location as well,” Harrington said.
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