116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
New high-rise may come to downtown Iowa City
Developers apply for permission to develop lot on Linn Street across from Englert Theatre
IOWA CITY — A new high-rise building may be going up in downtown Iowa City.
CA Ventures, a Chicago-based real estate company, applied for a special exception to parking rules for a 13-story mixed use building at 21 S. Linn St. across the street from the Englert Theatre.
CA Ventures is working with Axiom Consultants on the project.
The developers are asking for a 50 percent reduction in parking spaces required for a building and to provide a portion of parking on the building’s ground floor.
Both proposals require gaining a special exception from the Iowa City Board of Adjustment.
The board will consider the application at its Wednesday meeting.
The proposed building will have 229 residential units, with 188 studio or one-bedroom apartments, and 41 two-bedroom units.
The proposal includes commercial and amenity space on the first floor, including a possible fitness center and study space for residents.
The building’s rendering also has a setback from the fifth floor on, meaning those floors are a few feet behind the brick facade of the first four floors.
The proposal includes razing the U.S. Bank building and parking area now on the lot.
If the parking reduction is granted, the developers would need to provide 67 parking spots instead of 135.
The developers filed an application for the parking reduction at the board’s July 14 meeting, but the board deferred it until the August meeting.
According to a staff report included with the agenda, the developers meet all the criteria to get the special exceptions.
To get a parking reduction, developers need to prove that the building has unique characteristics and doesn’t need the required number of parking spots.
Axiom stated in the application that the complex, being designed for University of Iowa students, doesn’t need the required level of parking because students are less likely to have cars.
“Student-focused and urban apartments have a lower parking demand than market-rate apartments located farther from the downtown core,” the application said.
Another consideration for the application is its effect on historic preservation.
The staff report said the bank building on the lot is a contributing resource to downtown Iowa City’s designation as a historic district, and a former city hall was once on the lot. It also was a stagecoach stop.
“We’re asking them to incorporate some sort of acknowledgment of the historic nature of this site into the project,” Iowa City Senior Planner Anne Russett said.
Former Iowa City Council member Karen Kubby, the owner of Beadology at 220 E. Washington St., to the west of the lot, said in a letter to the board that she supports granting the special exception.
Kubby said she will be leaving her building by the end of the year and is in talks with CA Venture about moving into the new building once it’s built.
Kubby told The Gazette she’s generally against high-rise buildings in the downtown, but that the setbacks preserves the feeling of a lower building from the street. A surface parking lot, she said, is not the best use of downtown space.
“I think this is a great trade-off to have a building that understands the context in which they’re developing,” she said.
She said she also would like to see the historic nature of the property preserved. A plaque on the property now notes it was once a stagecoach stop, she said.
“I think it would be super easy to take that plaque from the wall and put it in the cornerstone of the building at the same spot to acknowledge the stagecoach stop,” she said.
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