Iowa City moving forward with Linn/Court development plans

Council to select three finalists at Nov. 6 meeting

This sign welcomes people as they enter Iowa City on Melrose Ave. (Gazette file photo)
This sign welcomes people as they enter Iowa City on Melrose Ave. (Gazette file photo)

IOWA CITY — Plans are back on track to select a developer for city-owned property near Linn and Court streets.

The Iowa City Council will host a special work session Nov. 6 to select finalists vying to develop roughly 60,000 square feet of property, where the St. Patrick’s Catholic Church’s parish hall once sat.

Finalists chosen Tuesday will make formal presentations to the council at a special meeting tentatively planned for Nov. 17.

“My guess is we’ll have a really spirited discussion, and they’ll decide which proposal achieves the full consensus of the group,” said Jeff Davidson, Iowa City’s economic development administrator. “We’ll work hard over the winter to get a development agreement in place so work can begin early next spring.”

Thursday’s special work session was originally set aside for the council to meet finalists — out of six proposed developments for the site — selected by a special subcommittee of city staff and council members in September.

The committee has recommended CA Ventures, HUB at Iowa City and Sherman Associates as the three finalists to develop the site, which has sat vacant since the church and parish hall relocated after the 2006 tornado and was bought by the city in 2008 for $3.05 million.

However, officials with one proposal not chosen as a finalist — Iowa City-based Prairie Sun Building Services — claimed in October its denied proposal was the only project that met all the criteria laid out in the city’s request for proposals, so the council postponed formally discussing the recommended finalists at its Oct. 7 work session to allow the city’s attorney’s office to look into the matter.

Officials with Prairie Sun Building Services claimed in correspondence to the city that the finalist selection process was illegal.

Iowa City attorney Eleanor Dilkes was unavailable for comment Friday, but an Oct. 21 letter she sent to the city council states that the council can safely proceed with selecting a finalist.

“I have completed my review and have concluded that the process was legal. You are free to proceed with your discussion,” Dilkes wrote in the letter.

Davidson said the letter delayed the selection process by a few weeks.

“Nothing has changed, we just picked it up where we were before the complaint was lodged,” he said.