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Council hires architects for multi-use parking structure

BY EMILY HOERNER | JANUARY 26, 2011 7:10 AM

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Iowa City’s workforce may soon have a new space to call home that includes a solution to one of the most frustrating issues downtown: parking.

The Iowa City City Council voted Tuesday night to hire Neumann Monson PC Architects of Iowa City to design the first phase of the future Near Southside Multi-Use Parking Facility on the former site of St. Patrick’s School, which was destroyed in the 2006 tornado.

The firm will receive $447,800 plus expenses less than $15,000, all of which will come from the parking-operations budget.

The total cost for the project will likely be $20 million to $30 million, said Jeff Davidson, the director of planning and community development for Iowa City. The large range is due to the infancy of the plan.

“There’s no doubt about it, it’s a big project,” Davidson said.

The building, which will be directly south of the Telluride Apartments and take up half a block, will include retail space on the first floor, and parking and residential housing above, said Iowa City City Councilor Mike Wright.

“Including residential is something we haven’t done before,” Councilor Regenia Bailey said.

Iowa City already has some multi-use parking facilities that have proven successful, including the Tower Place Ramp near Van Allen Hall, Davidson said. The city considered adding residential space to the property but decided to move forward with 27,000 square feet of commercial space.

There have also been successful examples of mixed parking facilities in Madison, Wis., that include residential units, Wright said.

Officials first thought about adding housing to the complex around four years ago, when the city conducted a housing analysis, Wright said.

“There was a crying need for workforce housing,” he said.

The new housing units will be aimed at teachers, junior police officers, and other members of the workforce, but the complex won’t exclude students, he said. It will be affordable for those working downtown, he said.

“Much of that housing is available outside of Iowa City; we need it in Iowa City,” Wright said.

The city will own the parking spots, but officials haven’t decided who will control the commercial and residential units, said City Manager Tom Markus. They may be turned into condos, used as office space, or leased to other owners.

The projected timeline for the construction is to begin this fall and have the complex finished in 18 to 24 months, Bailey said.

“I personally believe that’s the way to go,” she said.

One reason for the proposal is to add more parking downtown. Every five or six years, the city likes to add 500 to 600 parking spots, Davidson said.

“To keep downtown growing, we need to provide parking,” he said.

Also, mixed-use facility is a better option than just another parking ramp, because those facilities often turn out to be eye sores, he said.

“This fits into downtown better,” he said.


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