Coralville breaks ground on development project


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As eight shovels scooped up mounds of dirt from the empty lot at the intersection of Fifth Street and Third Avenue, the city of Coralville became one step closer to erasing the marks left by the devastating flood of 2008.

A multiphase project in the works over the past several months, the Old Town Coralville development officially kicked off with a ceremonial groundbreaking Monday evening.

The redevelopment project, designed by Watts Development Group, will bring together many different concepts to create a functional city space. The group is planning on building 154 housing units, 10,000 square feet of commercial space, and many public areas with green space for residents to enjoy.

“We’re looking forward to getting started and getting some nice new construction going on in the area that was hit by the flood and finally getting to see some revitalization in there,” Watts Realtor Brian Watts said.

Although phases are scheduled to be completed in five years, no commercial tenants have been secured and the selling of the residential properties has yet to be decided.

A key component of the plan for the area includes raising the entire neighborhood to a level 1-foot higher than the 2008 flood reached. This feature ensures that damage that occurred in 2008 should not again be a problem.

“The city has already installed the flood protection that not only protects the development but protects the rest of that neighborhood as well,” Coralville City Administrator Kelly Hayworth said. “Along with that, the project as a whole is a really exciting opportunity for us, and it’s another thing that we can check off from the flood of 2008, and now it’s really starting.”

Coralville Mayor Jim Fausett expressed excitement about having a large part of the functioning city center back and said it will encourage citizens to use the public spaces of the city.

“Anytime we have any creation and development in our neighborhood, I think it’s just a real incentive for the citizens to discover what Coralville is all about,” he said.

One longtime Coralville couple in attendance of the groundbreaking ceremony have made plans to call the new development home.

Sue Dvorsky said she and her husband, Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville, will move into a house in the new development once it is completed.

“Bob’s lived his entire life in the 1st Precinct of Coralville,” she said. “Our girls have always lived in Coralville, and the thought that we could move in here as part of this incredible recovery is just stunning to us.”

Many city officials and community members attended the ceremony, and all seemed to be eager about the prospect of having a central part of downtown Coralville back in working order.

“I’m excited that this is a good partnership with the city and a private developer working together, and I think it’s going to be a beautiful addition at the one of the entry points to our city,” Coralville City Councilor Jill Dodds said.

Watts Development is planning to honor the old Coralville by incorporating some vintage-style architecture into the new buildings so that they can resemble the old school and courthouse while still looking like a new addition to the city.

“You’re literally standing in the midst of all the original buildings of Coralville, so I think honoring that past with these beautiful new buildings is just really exciting,” Sue Dvorsky said.

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