Government

Iowa City again defers rezoning for potential 15-story development

Developer hopes to have apartment project heard by full council

A rendering shows the footprint of an apartment project proposed for south of downtown Iowa City near the historic Johnson County Courthouse. The project would include four buildings of up to 15 stories each. The 1,000-unit development would replace the 96-unit Pentacrest Garden Apartments there now. (City of Iowa City)
A rendering shows the footprint of an apartment project proposed for south of downtown Iowa City near the historic Johnson County Courthouse. The project would include four buildings of up to 15 stories each. The 1,000-unit development would replace the 96-unit Pentacrest Garden Apartments there now. (City of Iowa City)
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IOWA CITY — Consideration of what likely would be the biggest residential development in Iowa City history has been pushed back again.

The Iowa City Council deferred until August — at the applicant’s request — its first consideration of rezoning 12 E. Court S. and allowing four, 15-story buildings on the property. The developer is the Clark family, a major Iowa City landlord of student housing that rents under names including Apartments Downtown and Apartments at Iowa.

The family controls 100-500 LLC, the owner of the land and the Pentacrest Garden Apartments currently there.

“I’m really hopeful that this month we have to further dwell on this may provide an opportunity for more clarification as we move forward and perhaps we can actually close the gap in terms of what conditions need to be when that time comes,” said council member John Thomas, adding that aspects like impact on the environment and climate should be considered.

The developer requested a vote be delayed with the hopes that council member Mazahir Salih would return to meetings and perhaps be a tiebreaking vote on the seven-member board. She has missed recent meetings because of family health matters.

The corporation is hoping to rezone the nearly 3.5-acre plot south of downtown to a Riverfront Crossings zone.

That would allow up to eight stories, with an additional seven bonus stories if the project contains features that “provide public benefit or furthers goals and objectives” of the city’s master plan, according to a staff memo sent to council.

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“When thinking about height bonuses, it is important to keep in mind that the developer has no legal ‘right’ to the bonuses. Whether or not they would be granted is solely up to the council’s discretion,” Mayor Jim Throgmorton wrote in an open letter to council.

Plans for the development call for connecting North and South Capitol streets as well as the 15-story buildings containing about 1,000 total student-aimed units. The development is planned to have terraces, underground parking, pools, basketball courts and other exercise areas.

The existing Pentacrest Garden Apartments are four buildings with a total 96 units. It’s zoned high-density multifamily residential, a maximum height of 35 feet.

The council had considered the rezoning in May, but stayed the public hearing to Tuesday’s meeting, citing concerns over the project’s potential height and a need to consult with the Planning and Zoning Commission about conditions on the rezoning.

“I was supportive of moving forward with the rezoning. I really felt that we have ample opportunity after the rezoning to do all the negotiations and look at what kinds of requirements that we would want to put on this property before we allow the height bonuses,” said council member Susan Mims. “I have no qualms about negotiating those and making sure that in exchange for bonus heights we get a really high quality project. ...”

l Comments: (319) 339-3172; maddy.arnold@thegazette.com

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