Red Avocado Demolition Still on Schedule

By Kathleen Serino, Reporter

The building at 521 E. Washington Street, Iowa City, on Thursday, January 5, 2012. The building houses the Red Avocado Restaurant. (Mark Carlson/SourceMedia Group News)


By Kara Kelly

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The developer who plans to demolish the site of the Red Avocado vegan restaurant and Defunct Books is putting another nearby project on hold.

Nialle Sylvan, 33, owner of the Haunted Bookshop, said Allen Homes is delaying a proposed development at North Linn and Bloomington streets because of local opposition, particularly from the Northside Neighborhood Association. Sylvan, who started an online petition objecting to the project, said neighbors have expressed a desire to see a more “transitional” development, which would be more aligned with the current roof line and offer more affordable commercial spaces.

Contractor Jesse Allen, who was supposed to detail final plans for the development at Tuesday’s city council meeting, could not be reached for comment Saturday. It appears his plans for the Red Avocado site are still on schedule.

Meanwhile, the former owner of the Red Avocado site says the properties weren’t worth the upkeep.

“I’m not a commercial real estate developer, I’m just a person who had some old houses,” said Nila Haug, 69 who sold three addresses on East Washington Street to Allen Homes. The developer is planning to demolish the buildings to make way for a new mixed-use complex.

Haug called the properties “money pits” that were decrepit and ready to fall down. She paid close to $1 million in mortgages on the three properties and was unable to afford the property taxes, she said.

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