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Iowa City unveils finalists for downtown project

Gregg Hennigan, CR Gazette –

IOWA CITY – Five finalists will vie for the chance to build what would be a high-profile project on the edge of Iowa City’s downtown.

The winner may be selected as early as next month and construction could be underway next year.

The city is seeking a developer for land it owns on the northeast corner of the intersection of College and Gilbert streets.

A committee of city staffers and two City Council members reviewed nine proposals received earlier this fall. The five projects still under consideration range in height from five stories to 20 and all would include a mix of uses. Four include New Pioneer Co-op, which wants to relocate its nearby store.

All of them also seek at least a few million dollars in financial assistance from the city through sources like tax-increment financing.

John Yapp, an Iowa City transportation planner and the city’s point person on the project, said the review committee was interested in mixed-use buildings, developers who had experience with those types of projects in a downtown area and proposals that showed the ability to get the work done.

“I think projects that add to the vitality of downtown” were important to the committee, he said.

The City Council will review the finalists at a Nov. 26 work session. The public can provide input on the city’s website, by email at and at a Dec. 4 council meeting.

The earliest the council could pick a development team is Dec. 18. The city would then have to negotiate a development agreement with the chosen party, and then more detailed construction plans would have to be formulated. That process likely would last through the spring and summer, Yapp said, and if all goes as planned, construction could be underway a year from now.

The projects are:

Sherman Associates: A $50.1 million, 13-story building including New Pioneer Co-op on the first floor, one floor of office space and 11 floors of workforce housing rental units. An alternate option is for a six-story building with the co-op on the first floor and five floors of residential. The firm is represented by George Sherman and Jackie Nickolaus

Ryan Companies/Iceberg Development: A $16.5 million, five-story building including the New Pioneer Co-op on the first floor and four floors of studio, one- and two-bedroom condos. The proposal includes a green roof, solar panels and a roof-top cistern collection system. Represented by Jim Bergman and Marc Gullickson.

Chauncey Gardens: A $47 million, 18-story building including the New Pioneer Co-op on the first floor, one floor of retail, two floors of office space, one floor of resident amenities, and 13 floors of studio, one- and two-bedroom residential units.

The developers proposed building on the current Chauncey Swan Park site and converting the area the city is offering for development to a new Chauncey Swan Park and outdoor amphitheater. But Yapp said the city committee wanted it shifted back to target site. Represented by Jesse Allen.

The Chauncey: A $53.8 million, 20-story building with two movie theaters, a bowling alley and cafe on the first floor, two floors of office space, a 35-room hotel, and 12 floors of studio, one- and two-bedroom residential units. Represented by Steve Rohrbach and Marc Moen.

4 Zero 4 Development: A $29 million, eight-story building including New Pioneer Co-op and the Bike Library on the first floor, two floors of office space, and five floors of efficiency, one- and two-bedroom apartments.

This proposal is for a LEED Platinum building attempting to achieve net-zero energy living units and energy-efficient commercial space. Over 1,300 photovoltaic panels are proposed on the exterior of the building. Represented by Tim Dwight and Jake Christensen.

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