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Editorial: Address concerns about Chauncey buildings

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | APRIL 20, 2015 5:00 AM

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The location for the controversial construction of the Chauncey Tower in downtown Iowa City garnered a 3-3 split among members of the Iowa City Planning and Zoning Committee on April 16. As a result, the potential location of the 15-story tower will be left to the Iowa City City Council to decide without a recommendation from the panel.

The construction of the Chauncey Tower has sparked heated debate at almost every step of the way from its funding to its size. A clear divide has formed between those wishing to invest in the potential benefits for downtown that will accompany the Chauncey’s construction and those who see the Chauncey’s potential to quite literally cast a shadow over Iowa City.

The current plans for the Chauncey will contain a litany of amenities that would bolster economic growth downtown, such as “a 35-unit hotel and eight floors of apartment units” along with “100- and 150-seat movie theaters, two six-lane bowling alleys, a cafe, art and sculpture galleries, and an outdoor patio.”

Construction of the Chauncey would certainly set precedent for substantial development in the area, but many in the community are opposed to the “approximately 27,200-square-foot site at the northeast corner of College and Gilbert Streets” being rezoned from a majority public space to one that can accommodate the construction of the facility.

Members of the Episcopal Trinity Church, which has been in Iowa City since 1871, raised particular concerns about a shadow that would be cast over the church doing the day. Furthermore, there are questions of parking and other logistical aspects that would need to be addressed given current difficulties found downtown without the 15-story tower.    

Construction of the Chauncey does offer many potential benefits, but those benefits must be weighed within the context of the city as a whole. Iowa City is a community that extends farther than downtown, and any decision made that will affect the community as a whole should be made with that in mind. Any effort to improve the community should not be made without the unanimous support of the community as a whole.

Even if certain concerns regarding the construction of the Chauncey may be unfounded or potentially corrected, the amount of apprehension vocalized by the community should serve as an indicator that more needs to be done to address these concerns.

A project as large as this should not be forced upon the community, especially given the inability for those involved to consistently come to definitive decisions regarding the realization of the project.

The Chauncey may be coming whether we like it or not, but in the meantime, more needs to be done to either alleviate the concerns of the community as far as the current plans or make the necessary changes to accommodate the rest of the community.


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