UI music students to be in mixed company


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University of Iowa music students may have to turn down the volume when playing at the new School of Music building — to be polite to their new neighbors in the same building.

In addition to being in negotiatons to purchase land at the intersection of Burlington and Clinton Streets to build a new School of Music building, the university is buying commercial space from the privately developed Hieronymus Square Associates LLC across the street for classrooms, practice spaces, and offices.

In addition to the UI space, the building will have a variety of other uses.

"We're going to have everything from condominiums and retail to performance halls, recital halls, and an opera hall to academic spaces like classrooms and practice room for our faculty," said UI President Sally Mason. "Wow. I mean this is just breathtaking when you think about it."

David Kieft, the UI strategic initiatives and real-estate coordinator, said buying space within a private building was the best option for several reasons when thinking of where to rebuild part of the flooded School of Music facilities.

For one, it is in a good location.

"We didn't want to have students too far away from the main campus," Kieft said. "They have to have decent campus accessibility."

The UI is sharing a building with commercial neighbors isn't a new concept — officials have bought space in the US Bank building, the Jefferson Building, and Old Capitol Town Center. But this is the first time UI officials have worked with a developer to acquire part of a larger project.

With the other buildings, departments moved into existing vacant space. But now, officials must watch and wait for project's completion. Officials are guaranteed the space — approximately four floors of the 10- or 11-story building — but they don't yet know how much it will cost.

Officials could not disclose any estimates or potential spending caps because of ongoing negotiations. The project should be done by 2014.

Officials decided to work with the private development because they didn't own and couldn't acquire a large enough piece of land away from the floodplain that was also close to campus, Kieft said.

Across the street, the UI is in negotiations to purchase land where Bank of the West and MidWestOne Bank sit. This property will house the recital and performance areas of the school. However, this land is not owned by the UI as of now, Kieft said.

Officials plan to build a skywalk from this facility to the Hieronymus building.

The building to house the School of Music, whose facilities were destroyed in the 2008 flood, will be built at the lot on the east side of Clinton Street, but space is limited.

"FEMA is going to take into account and cover the square footage that was lost," said Rod Lehnertz, the director of planning, design, and construction for UI Facilities Management. "But it's hard to say the exact amount of space that belonged to the School of Music."

Lehnertz said the old facility was 297,000 square feet, and FEMA is only supporting the build of those dimensions. It will, however, consider expanding to accommodate upgrades in building codes.

"What it has agreed to cover is split among both the west-side and the east-side properties," Kieft said.

Room for expansion may be tricky, because the building's property will be filled with other businesses and tenants.

"Can't say it would be impossible for them to move into more of the space, but as it stands, it would be difficult," said Kevin Digmann, a spokesman for Hieronymus Square.

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