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Ringing in 2014 with changes to IC

BY GABRIELLA DUNN | NOVEMBER 21, 2013 5:00 AM

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Changes to Iowa City’s downtown appearance have gained momentum with the New Year fast approaching.

Iowa City construction includes both historic renovations and new developments.

The historic preservation of MidWestOne Bank, 102 S. Clinton St.; the development of the new high-end high-rise of Park@201, 114 S. Dubuque St.; and the future construction of the Chauncey on the northeast corner of College and Gilbert Streets, mark some of Iowa City’s biggest changes this coming year.

Downtown District President Bill Nussser said Iowa City now has some of the characteristics of other major cities.

“As a young child, I went to Cedar Rapids and Chicago … and wondered when [Iowa City] was going to get tall buildings,” he said, noting that now, the tall buildings are here.         

Park@201

The almost completed Park@201 14-story high rise will include a two-floor Buzz Salon, three floors of office space, and 26 residential units from floors five to 14. Prices will range from $250,000 for a 750-square-foot apartment to $380,000 for a 1,200-square-foot unit. Marc Moen, developer of the project and owner of Moen Group, said the residential units are going to be fully occupied by January 2014.

“This will bring a lot of vitality and vibrancy in that area,” Moen said. “I think it's just a huge face-lift for that part of downtown, and the response has been overwhelming on the residential purchases and rentals.”

MidWestOne Bank

In light of Park@201’s contemporary update to downtown, MidWestOne Bank is making changes toward restoring the original look of the 102-year old building.

The multiphase project is expected to take roughly two-and-a-half years to complete.

Dan Black, vice president of facilities at MidWestOne Bank, said this renovation aims to preserve the original integrity of the building’s look when it was constructed in 1911.

“[We’re] basically maintaining the current look of the building but giving it a revitalization of the exterior so it will last another 100 years and restoring some of the significant historical features,” said Adam Hahn, the project manager at Knutson Construction, and contractor for the project.

Nusser said the construction, which is right next to his business, will restore the building to its historic charm.

“It’s an upgrade almost, because it polishes one of downtown’s architectural jewels,” he said.

The Chauncey

Moen’s highly contested Chauncey project hopes to break-ground on construction during the coming year.

The community hub is projected to have a two-screen FilmScene theater, 12-lane bowling alley, café, boutique hotel, and high-end condos.

Moen said the project is still in the negotiation stage but the earliest construction could start would be during the fall of 2014. The addition of a larger FilmScene theater and bowling alley he said, originated from an Iowa City market study showing that those were the most requested missing elements to downtown.

The Chauncey, Moen said, is intended to create a community-based atmosphere. Because of this, there will be roughly 15,000 square feet of common gathering space on the first two floors of the building.

“The synergy of that space is important even though that is not rentable space,” he said. 

Planning of the Chauncey did not go without its criticisms. Rockne Cole, a local attorney and a member of the Iowa Coalition Against the Shadow, said building these high-rises is a breach of public trust. 

Cole said the need for affordable housing remains a huge issue in Iowa City, and investing in luxury buildings has not produced any further advancement toward more affordable housing in the area. 

“We have heard over and over again that they can’t make these developments without government subsidies, and my response to that is well, then, they should not be built,” Cole said. “I feel that when people are working hard at their jobs, and they’re paying tax dollars and those tax dollars are taken from them and given to people that do not need them, it’s unfair.”


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