Coralville Preparing to Buy Retail Space in Iowa River Landing

By Gregg Hennigan, Reporter

CORALVILLE, Iowa - The city of Coralville is starting the process that would lead to the construction of a 40,000-square-foot building in its Iowa River Landing District.

It also would result in the city paying $6 million for the first floor of that building to bring in retailers, although it hopes to eventually sell it.

The City Council on Oct. 9 is to hold a public hearing and vote on an agreement regarding the building.

What ultimately is to happen is the land will be sold, the building constructed and the second-floor office space will be owned by the private developer. The city will buy back the first floor.

That's consistent with the city's stated plan for the city-owned Iowa River Landing, a 180-acre area south of Interstate 80 and off First Avenue. A hotel set to open by the end of the year also has first-floor retail the city owns.

Future buildings planned for the district also would have retail components. The city has said it expects to purchase the retail spaces but eventually sell them to the same buyer so the stores can be run like a mall and have the same management and similar hours.

Plans for the building being discussed Tuesday night call for 15,140 square feet of retail space on the first floor and 24,750 square feet of office space on the second.

It's being developed by IRL Properties, of which local developer Kevin Digmann is a representative. City Administrator Kelly Hayworth said the property will be sold to IRL Properties for the appraised value, but the appraisal has not come back yet.

Hayworth said the city and its consultant are still working on identifying retailers to open stores in the building. The city plans to buy back the first floor in the spring, at which time it expects to have commitments for about 80 percent of the space, he said.

The building will have multiple stores – perhaps four, although the exact number depends on how the space is divided, Hayworth said.

Construction on the building is to start next month and finish a year later, although Hayworth said tenants would be able to work on their spaces starting in the summer.

With the hotel building expected to be finished in December, a Von Maur department store under construction and a University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics building opening Oct. 8 – along with the buildings already there – the city is hearing from more possible tenants for Iowa River Landing, Hayworth said.

"We're getting a lot more interest and people can say it's a real project, and it's really going happen," he said.

The city's work in the area is not without its critics. The millions of dollars in incentives given to Von Maur were condemned by local and state officials and others. A group of local developers also was upset at what they said was an unnecessary amount of office space in the district that will compete with their projects.
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