Bank Considering Expanding Plans For Former School Property

By Gregg Hennigan, Reporter

MidWestOne Bank, 325 South Clinton Street, Iowa City. Photo taken Thursday, January 27, 2011. (Matt Nelson/SourceMedia Group News)


By Belinda Yeung

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Something more than a bank may go up at the former home of the Iowa City school district’s administrative office.

Jeff Davidson, Iowa City’s director of planning and community development, said Thursday that next week, MidWestOne Financial Group is to share with the city a concept plan for a multistory building at 509 S. Dubuque St.

A MidWestOne loan center is expected to relocate to that site from its current home nearby to make way for a new University of Iowa School of Music complex.

Davidson said no material related to the project has been filed with the city but bank officials will discuss it at the Oct. 2 meeting of the City Council’s Economic Development Committee. He referred all other questions to the bank.

Kent Jehle, MidWestOne executive vice president and chief credit officer, said the bank has talked with other potential office users but said he could not say more than that. Some operations from the bank’s downtown headquarters could eventually be shifted to the new building, he said. Having housing units on the site is not under consideration, he said.

He said the bank wants to talk with city officials about what could be done at that location and how it may fit with the city’s vision for the surrounding neighborhood, which the city wants to see redeveloped.

The bank hopes to have the loan center moved to the former school building as a temporary home by November, he said.

“We’re focusing on the temporary, just getting our folks in there, but we’re also looking at the long term,” Jehle said.

“There’s just a lot of options that we could explore there,” he added.

Mayor Matt Hayek, who is one of the three City Council members on the Economic Development Committee, said he has not seen any plans, but his understanding is the project could be “substantial” and could represent a major private-sector investment in the downtown area.

The property technically is a couple of blocks south of downtown, but it is in a district called Riverfront Crossings that city officials see as a complement to or even a future extension of downtown. The city on Monday is unveiling a master plan that it expects to help guide the redevelopment of the area in the coming decades.

The bank and the UI are in effect swapping land as part of the UI’s plans to build a new School of Music to replace the riverfront facility damaged in the 2008 flood.

The UI bought the school district property earlier this year and sold part of it to MidWestOne in July. MidWestOne has not said if or when it will exercise its option to purchase the rest, which includes the building, UI spokesman Tom Moore said.

That option agreement runs through December 2014, and Jehle said the bank expects to eventually exercise that.

The UI bought the MidWestOne loan center property at 325 S. Clinton in June. That and surrounding land are to become the new home of the School of Music.

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