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City explores options for “green” business park

BY MARLEEN LINARES | MARCH 30, 2010 7:30 AM

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Iowa City could soon be home to the nation’s first “Macro Green” business park.

City officials are considering a plan that would create a tax incentive for a developer to build the environmentally friendly business space on the North Side of Iowa City.

The Moss Family Development Group has partnered with Des Moines-based ECO-4 Partners to create the proposal for developing 170 acres in Iowa City into a “green” office park.

The plan hinges on the Iowa City City Council’s approval of an tax-increment financing district on 243 acres of land located at the intersection of Highway 1 and Interstate 80.

Daniel Pettit, a partner on the development team, said the park would include a commercial section as well as housing. He said the project could provide a lot of job opportunities for Iowa City residents.

He also noted Iowa City’s property-tax base would increase because of the development and could be a draw for employment.

“Hopefully, this will also keep a lot of [University of Iowa] students in the state,” Pettit said.

Both the city’s Economic Development Committee and Planning and Zoning Commission have recommended the idea to the City Council. The council will likely vote on the plan later this spring.

The developers estimate the framework for the project will cost around $10 million, which includes installing sewage and extending Oakdale Boulevard. They estimate that when the project is done, it will have an evaluated value of more than $200 million, according to Wendy Ford, Iowa City’s economic-development coordinator.

If the plan is approved, the developers could apply for tax-increment financing. But if the property does not produce revenue — for instance, if the developers cannot find businesses to purchase lots — they would not be reimbursed.

If the city councilors approve the plan, they will negotiate how much the developers will be reimbursed.

Councilor Susan Mims, a member of the Economic Development Committee, said she is confident the plan will have a positive effect on the area’s job market and will provide the city with an increased tax base.

“I think they have done a very good job in planning and we are just trying to make this a very possible project,” she said.

Mims said she has not heard any negative opinions of the plan from other councilors. She anticipates the plan will earn the council’s approval.

“Everyone seems to be really on board,” Mims said.

The council will hold a public hearing about the project on April 27; it is preparing to have the plan adopted in its final form by May 10.


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