(Source: “Leaders in talks to alter downtown,” Press Citizen, 7 March 2014)
The City of Iowa City, the University of Iowa, and local property owners are exploring the idea of redeveloping an area of Washington Street (east of Clinton Street) in conjunction with the potential conversion of UI’s Jefferson Building back to a hotel. The above rendering was included in a master plan for the block developed by HDR, an Omaha-based consultant. (Rendering courtesy of the City of Iowa City.)
In what could be the biggest overhaul of a downtown Iowa City block since the urban renewal era of the 1970s and ’80s, a group of stakeholders is discussing the possibility of razing a row of century-old buildings to make room for a new development.
The city and University of Iowa have been working with a consultant this winter to examine the possibility of converting the historic Jefferson Building into a boutique hotel, an idea that first was raised publicly last year. But since then, the discussion has broadened to include redeveloping the adjacent strip of properties on the south side of the 100 block of East Washington Street.
A master plan developed by the consultant — an internal document that the Press-Citizen viewed on file in the city’s planning office — shows a dramatic, albeit conceptual, makeover of the block, transforming not only the Jefferson Building but also the entire stretch of properties between it and the Hands Jewelers building.
In place of the old brick and stone storefronts occupied by businesses such as The Den, Running Wild, Discerning Eye and The Brown Bottle, the master plan shows a modern, glass building up to six stories tall with underground parking and a mix of residential condominiums, offices and retail space.