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Proposed Size Restrictions To Iowa City Apartment Buildings Sparks Debate

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IOWA CITY, Iowa - A proposal to make zoning changes in downtown Iowa City is stirring up mixed reactions. The proposal would limit the amount of large apartment buildings being built in and around the downtown area. The move comes after the Red Avocado, a popular Iowa City restaurant, was demolished to make room for a new multistory apartment complex along Washington Street late last month.

"When you start putting this kind of architecture up, and you replace the historic retail shops and operations with big apartment buildings, it really deteriorates that area," said Terri Miller Chait, who along with her husband, owns the Chait Galleries in downtown.

The rezoning would limit new buildings in certain areas around downtown to three bedrooms per apartment. The amount of apartments per building would also be limited.

"As long as they keep them on the outside of town, I don't think it's a huge deal," said Bryan Reist, who believes the large buildings fill a necessary void in the area.

Opponents of the idea argue that development is needed in the downtown area to keep up with the growing University of Iowa campus. Some say a lack of off-campus housing in downtown could have a negative affect on perspective students.

The rules would only apply to newly constructed multiunit buildings in select zones.

The city council will discuss the matter at their February 21st meeting and decide whether or not to move forward with the plan.

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