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Home / Demolition begins on The Mill in Iowa City
IOWA CITY — Demolition on an iconic Iowa City gathering spot began Thursday, clearing the way for a new multipurpose development its owner says will include a performance venue.
Demolition on The Mill started about 9:30 a.m., with the brick building started to come down just before 10 a.m. The work is being done by Walford-based D.W. Zinser, according to a permit. Most of the building was razed by early afternoon.
The Mill has been part of Iowa City for nearly 60 years. The beloved bar and restaurant first opened in 1962 as the Coffee Mill, a folk music venue and coffee shop. It moved to the 120 E. Burlington St. location in 1972.
The Mill was a place for campaign stops, fundraisers, live music and shows, and a number of other events over the years.
It was slated to close in 2003 when then-owners Keith and Pam Dempster announced they were retiring. Dan Ouverson and Marty Christensen stepped in to buy the business at the eleventh hour.
Orange placards announcing the building’s demotion were placed on the windows in December, and the demolition permit was issued two weeks ago, on Jan. 13.
Marc Moen, a local developer and owner of The Mill property, told The Gazette earlier this month he intends to include a new performance venue as part of a development on the property.
The intent is that some of The Mill’s characteristics will help form a new “state-of-the-art performance venue,“ Moen said.
“While we cannot preserve the old structure of The Mill, we will carry forward its values and build a venue that nurtures the local arts culture, acts as a community gathering space, and attracts up-and-coming national performers,” Moen said.
The building, which was built in 1922, had a number of structural issues. The demolition permit listed asbestos as a hazardous material on site.
Moen said they are “fully committed to including a purpose-built intimate performance venue” as part of the new development.
Among those involved in the discussions have been Andre Perry, director of arts, engagement and inclusion at the University of Iowa; John Schickedanz, interim executive director and marketing director of the Englert Theatre; and Andrew Sherburne, executive director and co-founder of FilmScene.
Schickedanz said earlier this month the Englert is in the background “as a supportive arts venue, giving our blessing knowing that adding additional arts opportunities in the heart of downtown is a real benefit to the community as a whole and the arts ecosystem here.” Moen said in his statement additional information will be shared “soon.”
A tentative development timeline following the demolition is another year to complete the design, and two years for construction, according to Kevin Monson of Neumann Monson Architects.
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