CEDAR RAPIDS — A key city-owned plot downtown soon will become available for redevelopment — likely a high rise — after an original plan for a $103 million, 28-story project, called One Park Place, fell apart last fall after 18 months in the works.
At stake are three city-owned parcels acquired after the 2008 flood, now used for surface parking, at the corner of First Street and Third Avenue SE near the Paramount Theatre.
City Council members such as Marty Hoeger, who was not on the council at the time, said they anticipate the next proposal will have more financial certainty and likely will be smaller than the towering One Park Place, which would have been one of the largest, tallest private investments ever in the city.
“I don’t think the previous developer did anything wrong, but I want to make sure the people that propose the project have financing in line in a way that doesn’t delay the project an additional six to eight months,” said Hoeger, a member of the development committee.
“It doesn’t need all the leases to be signed to go through, but we want to be sure whoever has the winning application has done all of their homework.”
He said he’d like to see a development in the 10- to 13-story range.
A request-for-proposal process is to be recommended to the City Council’s development subcommittee at 8 a.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 101 First St. SE.
The recommendation calls for proposals to meet key objectives including a multistory design of at least five stories, financial viability based on current market conditions, market-rate housing, first-floor retail or commercial space, and inviting aesthetics.
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“I want it to look nice and be attractive and welcoming like any corner in the community that sits on a major thoroughfare,” said Ann Poe, a council member and committee chairwoman. “It’s a very important piece of property, and I think the developers will get creative with their ideas.”
If the process is approved by City Council, possibly on May 28, developers would have until July 27 to submit proposals. A stakeholder panel would select a top proposal on Aug. 1, and the City Council would endorse a preferred developer on Aug. 14, according to the staff recommendation.
The proposals would be evaluated and ranked based on three factors:
1. Developer capacity and project feasibility
2. Community benefit
3. Economic impact.
Within that, the stakeholder panel would consider the developers experience and capability based on similar projects, financial feasibility, timeline, architecture and design, inclusion of housing, overall project investment, jobs created and amenities or services provided.
Poe said One Park Place proposer Jesse Allen, of Allen Development of Iowa City, is welcome to submit a new proposal.
Having Allen involved either as the lead developer or a partner would make sense given Allen has acquired one adjacent properties and is negotiating for a second - both contain vacant buildings - to expand the development footprint to the full city block.
One Park Place had included a check list of needs and desires such as a grocery store, hotel, apartments, condos, parking and a rooftop restaurant, among other items.
One Park Place was selected over Steve Emerson’s proposed $33 million, 11-story project featuring housing, a grocery store and a medical clinic, and developer Fred Timko’s 14-story, $33 million Avalon Sky Lofts.
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Jennifer Pratt, community development director, said the city has tightened its controls to avoid projects lingering without timetables to keep them on track. She said she anticipates strong interest for the land, which is one of the most desirable remaining underused properties since the flood.
“We really want to make sure the development community in the market is driving this type of project,” Pratt said.
“We are excited to see if any new ideas are out there and excited to see what the development community has to offer.”
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