Iowa City City Council OKs design of Moen building

BY KRISTEN EAST | APRIL 18, 2012 6:30 AM

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Two weeks after approving a $2.5 million tax-incentive financing for a proposed 14-story development, the Iowa City City Council supported a new design for the building.

The city councilors approved an agreement with local developer Marc Moen's Central Park LLC April 3 to redevelop space at 114 S. Dubuque St. Moen plans to construct a 14-story mixed-use commercial and residential building in the space now occupied by the Wells Fargo Bank. Councilors also approved providing Moen with a $2.5 million in TIF for the development.

Subsequent meetings between Moen and city design staff and architects resulted in a new design for the 14-story building.

"I love architecture, but I'm not an architect," Moen said. "The architects provided a far more superior design. It's a much more marketable design … It has an increased construction cost, but to me, it's worth it."

Councilors approved the new design on a 5-2 vote, with Mayor Matt Hayek and Councilor Jim Throgmorton opposing the changes.

"My concern is about the precedential impact of this," Hayek said. "This would be a first. There are a lot of buildings on the horizon where a similar request could be made. [It's something] councilors better be comfortable with."

The changes include a cantilever — a long projecting beam — of the building over the Black Hawk mini-park and the Pedestrian Mall. The proposed cantilever would be 17 to 18 feet above the ground. Moen said the cantilever would provide a four-foot canopy for pedestrians. Additionally, there would be inserted, recessed balconies 4-feet deep starting on the fifth floor of the building.
Moen said he doesn't anticipate any major changes to the current design.

Councilor Connie Champion praised the building's new design.

"This is an excellent design," she said. "Pedestrian-wise, it's much better. You're not going to be looking at this sheet of glass you're afraid that's going to fall down on you. It makes you feel safer."

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