Construction starting for MidWestOne


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As several ongoing projects in the Iowa City Downtown District are underway, one facility south of Burlington Street will soon break ground in the Riverfront Crossing District.

At Tuesday’s Iowa City City Council meeting, a resolution to allow MidWestOne Financial Group to start on construction with an adjusted zoning code — which will closely mirror the Riverfront Crossing’s zoning code — was passed with a 6-0 vote.

“We did get a temporary zoning change to start construction with the idea that [the zone] becomes permanent,” said Kent Jehle, the executive vice president of MidWestOne Bank. “They actually changed the zoning to allow our use.”

The six-story facility on Clinton Street with the MidWestOne Financial Group occupying the first three floors of the new office tower.

The two remaining floors of office space will be leased or put up for sale. The sixth floor will serve as a reception and lounge area for the tenants.

The Riverfront Crossing facility is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2015.

“Getting started with the office building in the fall rather than spring is necessary to be on schedule,” said Jeff Davidson, the city director of planning and development.

The home-mortgage center, which is operated in the former Sabin Elementary, 509 S. Dubuque St., will be relocated to the new facility on the first floor, along with a private bank and a drive-through.

The historic Sabin Elementary will be demolished, and a public parking ramp and four-story townhome-style condominium building will be created in that lot.

“Pursuant to our contractual agreement with MidWestOne Bank, the university will raze the Sabin School building and sell the vacant land to MidWestOne Bank or its designee,” University of Iowa business manager David Kieft said in an email. “Our agreement calls for the land to be cleared of any structures before it is sold.”

The UI is in charge of the demolition of the elementary school before the MidWestOne Financial Group can proceed with building the parking ramp and the condominium. The UI purchased the property last year and then sold a portion of it to MidWestOne. The demolition has no set date.

As the demolition project plans are being completed, some local citizens were not happy with the initial plan.

“I wasn’t pretty happy that [Sabin elementary] was sold and the building will be destroyed,” said Craig Carney, owner of Racquet Master Bike & Ski, 620 S. Dubuque St. “Initially I wasn’t happy with that, but with the bank going up, it will bring more visibility into the area.”

The bank has worked with city officials to determine that the townhome-style condominium units would fall under the category of workforce housing for people making an estimated $40,000 to $80,000 annually.

At the same time, the firm is currently conducting a roughly $10 million historic preservation project at the downtown headquarters, 102 S. Clinton St. The renovation was originally expected to cost less than $8 million but unexpected structural complications drove the price up.

The project will bring back original cornice details, replace all windows, and install central air conditioning. The renovation process is expected to be complete by summer 2016.

“We’re moving quickly ahead with the renovations,” said Kevin Monson, the Neumann Monson Architects president. “We’re doing it in phases and that’s why we need to start the new building. It fits together in a pretty intricate process.”

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