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Iowa City company may bring $14 million profit

BY MICHELLE NGO | FEBRUARY 19, 2014 5:00 AM

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An area company’s $1 investment could grow to be a $14 million project.

The Coralville City Council approved a resolution of intent to sell more than 100,000 square feet of city-owned property to Blue Sky Developers Inc. for $1 at a Coralville City Council meeting earlier this month.

The urban-renewal property is part of an area near Sixth Street and Fifth Avenue.

Although absent from the meeting, Mayor John Lundell said he supports the new development.

“It’s just what we’re looking for,” he said. “We’ve been experiencing a lot of development around Coralville, but this it is the most recent one in that neighborhood.”

Blaine Thomas, the Blue Sky president and CEO, plans to build a mixed-use two-structure development comprising 18,000 square feet of commercial space on the first level and approximately 70 living units on the upper levels. This is the first of four building proposals planned by Thomas, said Coralville City Administrator Kelly Hayworth.

Thomas plans to pay for the project without any assistance from the city.

“The city didn’t think it was needed for the project, you know,” Hayworth said. “The land is a significant contribution to this project.”

Unless any other design proposals are presented to the council, the city will vote on Blue Sky Developer’s space on March 25.

If the City Council approves the project, construction of the buildings could begin as soon as June 1 and open in September 2015. Though the Town Center Design Standard does include a few limitations of what the space can’t be used for, such as a convenience or auto-parts store, Thomas has freedom of what will be featured in his design.

“His idea sounded a little bit eclectic but also geared more toward the local neighborhood in that area,” said City Councilor Bill Hoeft.

Hoeft and Hayworth said Thomas’ plans may include an ice-cream shop, dentist’s office, fitness center, and cafĂ©, which is expected to generate up to a $14 million property value total.

“This is something the council has had in its goals for a long time,” Hayworth said. “It’s been an urban-renewal area since the 1990s, so it will connect the Old Town development starting now with the Town Center District.”

As this project passes through the Coralville City Council, councilors such as Hoeft hope more projects will be presented in the future to create a flow among the areas of Old Town, Town Center, and First Avenue, creating a large riverfront development where residents can walk and shop.

“The riverfront plan is a long-term plan,” Hoeft said. “When we’re thinking about these things, we’re not thinking about five or even 10 years down the road. We’re talking 15 or 20. That’s a big, big project.”


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