Shadow activist calling on UI student action


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The voices and opinions of the 30,000 University of Iowa students need to become more prominent, particularly in regard to the changing physical face of Iowa City, one community activist says.

Rockne Cole, a member of the Iowa Coalition Against the Shadow said the students, regardless of where they call their permanent home, should start speaking out against a number of changing initiatives coming to the city.

Cole, whose group that has continually spoken out against developer Marc Moen’s $53 million, 20-story the Chauncey proposal, said students have as much equal say in how Iowa City grows in the future as traditional residents.

He said he believes thefight over the controversial high-rise to be built on city-owned land at the intersection of College and Gilbert Streets may be settled with student input.

Cole, along with Jon Fogarty, and developer Mark McCallum, filed a petition in 6th District Court on Monday appealing the City Council’s denial of the group’s rezoning request on the land. The Chauncey proposal gained council approval on Jan. 8. Cole said the petition is just one part of a multi-prong strategy the group hopes to roll out in the future. 

Cole said the group argues that the high-rise, which would rise six stories higher than Iowa City’s tallest building, Plaza Towers, is inconsistent with well-established surrounding neighborhoods.

“This is a community space; this is a community project,” he said. “This will permanently and irrevocably affect the landscape of the city they went to college in.”

Cole said he doesn’t think college students “crave” the proposed amenities in the new building, such as a 12-lane bowling alley but noted that he would welcome the project if the height would be reduced. 

“We would like the students to get involved in this process,” he said.

He pointed out that all city planning documents that he has combed over have indicated that commercial development should take place south of Burlington.

“If this is such a great building and it’s going to draw such a great density, it needs to be built south of Burlington,” Cole said.

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