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North Side Marketplace undergoes numerous projects

BY BEN MARKS | SEPTEMBER 02, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa City’s North Side Marketplace will see some fresh residents and businesses soon.

North Side Commons, at the intersection of Linn and Bloomington Streets, along with 211 N. Linn St., are two construction projects underway in the area.

The Commons will feature a first-floor commercial space and two floors of residential condos, said Tom Kaut, the owner and developer. Kaut co-owns the Commons along with partner Jesse Allen.

Allen is also working independently to develop 211 N. Linn St.

Kaut is excited about the interest that has been generated for the residential space of the Commons so far.

“It’s a little too early [for leases], but we have a waiting list for the condos,” Kaut said. “We have buyers lined up for [the commercial space].”

There’s been a lot of interest in the commercial space as well, and although no details regarding the space have been completed, Kaut said, he does not believe the space would be used for a restaurant.

“We don’t exactly have enough parking for a restaurant,” he said. “We’d have to get some sort of parking rezoning from the city if it were to approve a restaurant.”

However, Kaut said, the businesses interested so far range from a bakery to attorney offices.

The Commons was supposed to be finished this fall, Kaut said, but the past winter was particularly bad and construction was delayed.

Now, the project is estimated to be finished next spring, and so far, heavy rains have had no effect on the progress.

The delays were not too costly, Kaut said, and it would have been more expensive to push through winter than to let it sit. The final cost of the Commons is expected to be around $3.5 million to $4 million.

The Commons will also feature Iowa City’s first residential rooftop garden. The garden will not be public, and Kaut said he plans for it to be a place for condo residents to relax, grill out, plant gardens, and enjoy the view.

Located next to Brix, 211 N. Linn St. is a smaller development than the Commons, featuring 1,155 square feet of commercial space on the first floor with three one-bedroom apartments above.

Allen bought the building with the plan already in place, and the building’s exterior design will fit in with the older look of the rest of the block.

As with the Commons, although plans have not been completed yet, Kaut believes a retail unit will occupy the first floor.

Others around the North Side Market, such as Jill Kinkade of Devotay, 117 N. Linn St., are also excited about the future developments.

“I’m totally into any new commerce; we’re a little satellite down here,” Kinkade said. “We want more traffic, but there has to be a pull.”

Todd Thelen, the owner of Artifacts, 331 E. Market St., said Allen held a meeting at the library for the local business owners to discuss the developments.

“Most were okay with the condos, it means more families in the area,” Thelen said. “And the more businesses, the merrier. North Side has become the area for shopping and eating.”

And although Thelen is glad that 211 N. Linn St. will be designed to match the historic exteriors of the other buildings, he hopes the standalone Commons will have a more modern feel.

However, Nialle Sylvan, the owner of the Haunted Bookshop, 219 N. Gilbert St., is conflicted.

“Iowa City can only benefit from there being more destinations,” she said. “But the two houses that were where the Commons is now had sentimental attachment. One of them was where Tennessee Williams stayed when he visited Iowa City. But they were worn and were being used as rentals.”


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