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Council backs TIF plan

BY NICK MOFFITT | DECEMBER 03, 2014 5:00 AM

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A 96-unit development on Riverside Drive will now receive $1.8 million in tax increment financing after overwhelming vocal support and a 7-0 vote from the Iowa City City Council Tuesday.

The development will contain 12 units that will serve the workforce housing market and be managed by the Housing Fellowship.

The property is at 629 S. Riverside Drive, the old home of Hartwig Motors, and across from Linder Tire.

The $1.8 million TIF would be paid with a nine-year rebate.

Mayor Pro Tem Susan Mims said the high-quality project benefits Iowa City as a whole.

“This is a catalyst project for this part of town,” she said. “When you drive in from Iowa City from the south, it is certainly not the most attractive entrance to this community.”

The reason she said she would vote yes is to improve Iowa City’s gateways.

Kevin Hanick, the developer for the project, said the area is an underutilized and underinvested area, and the TIF will help make this investment in the area happen and create a residential development primarily for non-undergraduate students.

“We can create environments that will encourage certain kinds of tenants, things like quiet hours,” he said.

Hanick said the development has been a long time coming, with little development for that group of people.

“There have been no projects really targeted at that demographic,” he said.

Part of the big appeal for the TIF to councilors was that the building will be a completely solar-powered building, Hanick said, and will potentially produce more than it uses.

“The solar panels are a huge step forward for a building in Iowa City,” Councilor Terry Dickens said.

Davidson said the new taxes from the development would be very substantial, currently the empty car lot provides around $50,000 per year, and in the initial year the new development would provide almost $300,000 in property tax.

He said even during the TIF years, the taxing area will receive almost double the amount of taxes for the protected debt levy.

Once the TIF rebate is over, it is projected by the Iowa City economic development department that the property will bring $320,000 per year in new taxes.

“This is a site that has been a blighted property,” Jeff Davidson, the city’s economic-development administrator said, noting that investment in the area is needed.

He said officials have had substantial negotiations with the developer, which has improved the project to the amenity level it is at today.

Another reason he said the city would consider the TIF is the lack of private investment in the area, and with this project the city can truly invest in the area.

The total construction cost of the building will be $16.1 million.

Iowa City resident Jeff Biggers said he looks at the project as a down payment on Iowa City’s climate future.

“This development to me is not only commendable, it is indispensable, and to think we will have a building operating with solar panels and mono recycling,” he said.


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