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Coralville City Council Approves Lensing Center Re-Zoning

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CORALVILLE A unique events center and office building planned for the intersection on the southwest corner of 12th Avenue and Forevergreen Road is one step closer to development following a third and final consideration by the Coralville City Council to approve the land's re-zoning Tuesday night.

The Council approved the measure in a unanimous vote, with two council members absent. A site plan submitted by MLV Properties, LLC says the plan will likely include a 7,500 square foot event center, 4,800 square foot commercial building and a 7,500 square foot life center. Though the plan says the buildings will be built in three phases between 2013 and 2015, Mike Lensing, a member of the investor group, said Tuesday that the plan is still a concept and construction likely won't begin in the near future.

"It's not like we're moving bulldozers in tomorrow," Lensing said, adding he wants to make sure the structure is neighborhood friendly. "We want to kind of see what's going on with the neighborhod, but that's our concept and that's kind of where we're going."

Lensing, co-owner of Lensing Funeral Home and Cremation Service, said he hopes the center will have a feel different from a funeral home, and that people will feel comfortable using it for all kinds of life events like weddings, bar mitzvahs, or other types of life celebrations and parties.

"I see changing trends in my profession, and many things that I see are related to how people memorialize and any times it becomes more of a celebratory ritual than a funeral sort of thing," Lensing said.

"So I look at it and other places in the country and I think, so if you put funeral on this, that's all people will see but this can be for more than that and be used for many ceremonies of life."

He added that the structure will likely be more of a reception area, but will not have a crematory or preparation room, in order to avoid having a funeral feel. However, if someone wanted to use the space for a funeral, they would be able to.

"That's the biggest concern with me, is that I don't want people to even get the feel that this is a funeral home because it's really not, but it could be used for a funeral, kind of like a church," Lensing said.
Lensing said there is no firm timeline for construction as the plans have not been solidified, and no cost estimates on the buildings are available.

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