Government

Iowa City Council approves $12.25 million in TIF for downtown project

People walk by the Iowa City City Hall which includes the Police Department in Iowa City on Wednesday, November 5, 2014.
People walk by the Iowa City City Hall which includes the Police Department in Iowa City on Wednesday, November 5, 2014. (The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The Iowa City Council on Tuesday threw its support behind a downtown development designed to revitalize and preserve the character of the Pedestrian Mall.

A resolution approving $12.25 million in tax increment financing over 15 years for the project received unanimous support from the council Tuesday night.

“The Ped Mall is such an important part of our downtown,” said council member Susan Mims. “I am very much in support of this.”

Since 2017, the Mankato, Minn.-based Tailwind Group has purchased all the buildings from 109 to 127 E. College St. The $54.4 million project involves designating buildings as historic landmarks in order to renovate and preserve them. The project would breathe life into the 100 block of East College Street by eliminating 50 percent of the commercial space, which would allow smaller businesses that would be open during the daytime to move in. Local restaurateur Jim Mondanaro plans to expand his Reunion brewery and restaurant into the former Fieldhouse location, and Riverside Theatre would move into the second and third floors of the former Union Bar.

A 102-unit multifamily building is planned south of the existing buildings, and the nine-story building is to be LEED Gold certified.

Rather than provide affordable housing units in the new building, Tailwind intends to meet TIF requirements by contributing more than $1.8 million to the city’s affordable housing fund.

“There are a number of extraordinary benefits associated with this project,” said City Council member John Thomas. “It’s really quite impressive.”

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City Manager Geoff Fruin said the $1.8 million fee in lieu of providing affordable housing must be paid at the time a building permit is issued, rather than the fee being paid out over a longer period.

Brandon Smith, vice president of operations and development for Tailwind, previously has said he has “strong verbal agreements” with other potential tenants on the block and he expects all commercial spaces to be filled within a year.

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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