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Bike Library seeks new home

BY TING XUAN TAN | JULY 08, 2014 5:00 AM

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Come fall, a local bike coalition will need to make the move out of its current downtown location in order for construction to begin on a long-discussed high-rise development.

Since 2005, the Iowa City Bike Library has been located at 408 E. College St., a location city officials have provided with low-cost rent.

But that began to change when the Iowa City City Council gave the green light to developer Marc Moen and his development firm, Moen Group, in 2012 to develop a 20-story building at the intersection of Gilbert and College Streets.

Moen — who has led downtown development in recent years with the construction of several high-rise projects, including the 14-story Park@201 and Plaza Towers — said he would be happy to work with bike library officials in order to find a new home for it in the Chauncey.

“The Chauncey is an arts and entertainment venue and addresses uses that are lacking downtown and which have been identified in market studies as missing elements in our downtown,” Moen, the lead developer for the project, wrote in an email Monday.

In 2012, Iowa City requested proposals from several developers in a bid to have the location developed with an urban downtown-density project in mind.

The roughly $50 million mixed-use project was chosen as the preferred option; it is set to include a bowling alley, gallery, two movie screens for FilmScene, a boutique hotel, class-A office space, and residential units.

Besides the need for an affordable location, Bike Library representatives say there are other factors that may influence where the nonprofit organization can relocate.

“The downtown is doing really well, so everything fills up pretty quickly,” said Anne Duggan, a Bike Library volunteer, noting that the group hopes to keep a presence downtown in its new location. “It’s been hard to find something that would be perfect for what we need. We need a certain amount of storage space and places to get messy.”

One of the several programs used by the organization to encourage the greater Iowa City community to ride bikes is known as Rent a Bench. The initiative, which takes place on each Friday and Saturday, allows people to fix their own bikes by renting a work bench complete with necessary repair equipment. Volunteers are also on hand to offer help when needed.

“We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of Iowa City for providing a low-rent space,” Mark Pooley, a Bike Library volunteer, wrote in an email Monday. “The Iowa City Bike Library would not be the success it is today without such a great and affordable location.”

Regardless of where it may move to, the Bike Library will still run its programs and will have the support of active cyclists in Iowa City.

“The Bike Library provides a great resource for Iowa City,” said Mark Wyatt, the executive director of Iowa Bicycle Coalition. “We hope it is able to find space to continue introducing more people to bicycling.”


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