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New environmental advances arrive at mall

BY MICHAEL KADRIE | OCTOBER 07, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa City residents will soon have a new place to drop off their recycling in Iowa City.

Core Realty Holdings LLC will start implementing environmentally friendly measures throughout the Iowa City Marketplace, 1660 Sycamore St., formerly known as the Sycamore Mall.

This includes the remodeling of 70,000 square feet and is expected to reach completion by mid-2015.

“It’s a part of everything we’ve been doing for the past two years,” said John Arlotti, the vice president of commercial holdings for Core Realty.

The Marketplace’s new “Go Green” area will allow tenants, customers, employees, and anyone else to dispose of their rubbish responsibly.  Arlotti said the initiative should consistently draw patrons to the Marketplace.

Trash compactors will be installed in order to reduce the volume of waste sent to the landfill.

The biggest feature of the Marketplace’s makeover is the replacement of the refrigerant being used in the air-conditioning system.  The R-22 refrigerant currently used is being phased out by the Environmental Protection Agency because of its harmful effect on the ozone layer.

Its replacement has zero ozone-depleting potential and a low potential to worsen global warming, and it is predicted to reduce energy costs between 15 and 20 percent.

“If everybody does a little bit, it can make a huge difference,” Arlotti said.

These environmentally conscious updates underway are only the beginning of major changes to the Marketplace.

Renovations of the space formerly occupied by Von Maur are estimated to cost $4.4 million. 

Core Realty is involved in a process that may see Iowa City contributing $1.75 million of the funding.

Jeff Davidson, Iowa City’s economic-development administrator, said the plan has the blessing of the city staff that initially viewed it, but it must be officially decided on by the Iowa City City Council.

The money provided by the city wouldn’t be a loan or gift but rather a refund of the facility’s property taxes in the form of a grant.

Davidson said vacant stores in the Marketplace have led to decreasing the property-tax value of the building in recent years.

“By getting the lights on in the stores, we raise the tax revenue,” Davidson said.

He said there were recommendations for improvements to the property that would have to be made before Core Realty could use the funds.

He said pedestrian pathways in the parking lot need to be improved, and the property needs to be made more environmentally conscious.

Pending approval, the proposal for funds won’t be voted on until after Oct. 21.

Mayor Pro-Tem Susan Mims said she hopes the mall won’t need the funds, but she was prepared to offer the Marketplace her support.

“Certainly, the Iowa City Marketplace is a very important part of our retail community,” she said. “And we need to make sure it continues.”

Arlotti said he is optimistic about the future and the Marketplace’s enduring place in the Iowa City community.

“We want to be the No. 1 shopping center in Iowa City, and I think we’re going to get there,” he said.


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