Iowa City Multi-use Parking Facility Delayed
By Gregg Hennigan, Reporter
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa City plans to push back a much-discussed project that would put housing and commercial space in a parking ramp.
City staffers, in a memorandum released Thursday, said they want to delay the project for one year, in part because of uncertainty over whether there is enough demand for the parking spots.
The structure is to be at the corner of Linn and Court streets south of downtown. That’s an area known as Riverfront Crossings, which city officials hope to see redeveloped in the coming decades. City officials have pointed to the parking facility as a big part of those plans.
The preliminary concept called for a $48 million structure with 575 parking spaces, nearly 100 housing units aimed at young professionals and small amounts of office and retail space. The city would own the parking ramp portion, which it estimated earlier this year would cost $15.65 million to build. The rest would be privately developed.
Among the reasons cited for seeking a delay:
A change from there being 200 people on the waiting list for downtown parking permits to 200 permits being available.
Wanting to wait until more is known about several nearby projects not yet under construction or in holding patterns that the new parking facility would rely on for demand. These include a large mixed-use building, a student-housing project, the proposed Johnson County criminal justice center and a new University of Iowa School of Music.
An inability to reach an agreement on the project’s concept with Frew Nations Group, which the city picked last spring as the “preferred developer.” The project has “evolved” to now include student housing, something the city has tried to deemphasize as it seeks more long-term, owner-occupied housing downtown. Having student housing would cause the city to reassess its plans to use tax increment financing on the project.
Jeff Davidson, the city’s director of planning and community development, said student housing could be part of the final project, but that question has not yet been answered.
He also said Frew Nations Group, which is the project and construction manager for Cedar Rapids’ Convention Complex, said it would go forward with the project only if it could construct the full facility. Iowa City had planned to publicly bid the parking portion, as is its custom, Davidson said.
He’s hopeful parking demand is higher and the other issues are resolved in 12 months and the project can again move forward.
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