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City Council decides on Linn, Court street finalists

BY NICK MOFFITT | NOVEMBER 07, 2014 5:00 AM

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During a special work session Thursday, the Iowa City City Council decided the finalists for the Court/Linn Street development.

The council decided the proposals from CA Ventures, HUB at Iowa City, Linn Court Lofts, and Sherman Associates will move forward to the finalist stage.

Originally, the council wanted to have three finalists for interviews, but a fourth was added because of potential issues with a proposed developer.

Sherman Associates has recently faced issues of being spread too thin, and Councilor Terry Dickens said that was the reason for bringing in the fourth.

“If they are immediately thrown out, then you’re down to two proposals,” he said.

The fourth added to the process was CG Hanson’s Linn Court Lofts project.

The site being developed is the former St. Patrick Parish Hall, which was destroyed during the tornado of 2006. Since then, the site has acted as a parking lot, which is now owned by the city.

Jeff Davidson, the director of economic development for Iowa City, presented an overview of recommendations from city staff and the review committee.

The committee consisted of various city staff and elected officials including City Councilors Kingsley Botchway II and Susan Mims.

Davidson highlighted that the new development will generate property tax.

The large area hasn’t generated property tax since the 1920s because it was owned by St. Patrick’s Church and then the city.

“We’ll have a significant change in that regard, a significant value,” he said during the presentation.

Davidson also said the review committee considered the University of Iowa’s needs during the discussion.

He said with the top two proposals being primarily geared toward students and developers with prior experience with student housing, the final decision will certainly factor in heavily the demand from the UI.

“The site is certainly big enough to accommodate multiple housing types,” he said.

The proposals all feature various types of mix use spaces, including senior housing, commercial space, student housing, and hotel space.

Davidson called the property “prime” for tax increment financing, or TIF, if requested by the developer.

On Nov. 17, the chosen finalists will present their projects to the City Council, which will ultimately determine the selected proposal.

“It’s clear with such a low vacancy rate there needs to be some added supply,” Davidson said.

While student housing was important to a consensus of the board, with the top two proposals featuring student housing prominently, others had visitors at the forefront of their decision.

The hotel aspect of proposals mattered heavily to Botchway, citing a number of big events in Iowa City with very few hotel options for visitors.

“We don’t receive any of the hotel, motel tax from Coralville, and it would be nice to get some of that hotel, motel tax here,” he said.


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