Proposed Development Would Include Iowa City Fire Station

A new mixed-use development would supplant City Hall’s parking lot with a fire station addition, residential units, commercial space and a parking ramp, while preserving a historic church, according to new plans filed with the city of Iowa City.

Allen Homes, a local development company that signed a purchase agreement for the Unitarian Universalist Society’s property earlier this year, is working with the city on the project, which would transform a site on the edge of downtown bordered by Gilbert Street, Iowa Avenue, Van Buren Street and City Hall.

According to a rezoning application filed recently by the developer for the nearly one-acre property, the project would be built atop the existing city-owned surface parking lot, as well as the property along Gilbert Street where the church’s office annex once stood.

“Open parking lots aren’t necessarily the best use of land near the downtown, so this would put a productive use in that location and help preserve the historic church building,” said Bob Miklo, senior planner for the city.

The fate of the former 108-year-old church has been in limbo this past year after the congregation voted to sell its longtime home and build a new facility in northwest Coralville. While the more modern annex to the church was demolished earlier this year, the original sanctuary was left standing at 10 S. Gilbert St. and would remain so under the proposed plans.

Plans show the fire station addition being built where the church annex once stood along Gilbert Street, between the existing fire station and the original church. Three stories of commercial space would be housed above the fire department.

The building would also feature 25 townhouses lining Iowa Avenue and Van Buren Street, surrounding a multistory parking ramp with 202 spaces that would stand in the center of the development. An additional 24 apartment units would be built above a portion of the parking structure.

The current parking lot, which is used by police cruisers and other city fleet vehicles, must be rezoned from public property to Central Business Support Zone to allow for the development. Iowa City’s Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to take up the developer’s application at meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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