Plan for Coralville's 'Old Town' goes to City Council

By Gregg Hennigan, Reporter

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By Kayleigh Milas

CORALVILLE – A plan for a $24 million redevelopment of flood-prone land in the oldest section of Coralville will go before the City Council next week.

The project, from Iowa City-based Watts Development Team and Hiawatha-based Fusion Architects Inc., calls for 154 housing units, 10,000 square feet of commercial space and public areas south of Fifth Street between Biscuit Creek and Second Avenue.

The 20-acre site was under several feet of water in the 2008 flood, but the land will be built up and a berm will be constructed as part of the project.

“It will basically take kind of a blighted area that had the flood damage, and take it in and be one of the nicer multi-use areas in Coralville,” developer Gary Watts said Friday.

The City Council on May 28 is to hold public hearings and votes on a few items related to the project, including rezoning the land, vacating streets running through the property and the preliminary plat.
The site, which the city now calls Old Town Coralville, was home to houses, apartments and city buildings before the 2008 flood. The city bought out the properties and has spent the years since exploring options for the area.

“I think it’s great,” City Administrator Kelly Hayworth said of the Watts-Fusion proposal. “It’s an excellent location. It’s right in the heart of our community, close to the interstate, close to the University of Iowa.”
A year ago the city selected Watts-Fusion over a competing proposal and entered into negotiations.

The cost estimate is $22 million to $24 million, Watts said. No financial assistance or tax breaks are being provided by the city, Hayworth and Watts said.

The housing includes 42 two- and three-bedroom townhouses throughout the site that would sell for between $185,000 and $215,000.

Also, there’s a building with 72 apartments and another with 40 apartments and 10,000 square feet of commercial space. Watts hopes to get a restaurant with an outdoor patio and perhaps some officer users in the commercial space.

That building would the first to be constructed along with eight to 10 of the townhouses, with construction starting this spring and finishing about 12 months from now, Watts said.

The full project would to be done in phases, with construction finished in 2018, according to the city.

Watts said the goal is to buy more property to the east as it becomes available over the next few years. With expansion, the development would approach $40 million, he said.

The plan calls for public space on the southwest corner of the property. Early ideas for that included an amphitheater, farmers market and an ice rink, but the city has not decided what public amenities, which itwould pay for, would be there.

A berm is to be built to 1 foot above the 2008 flood level and the entire site would be 1 foot above the 100-year flood elevation. A city storm-sewer pump station is near the property.

The council also is to vote on vacating Second Avenue Place, a portion of Third Avenue, Third Avenue Place and Fourth Street.

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