Saturday, April 11, 2009

Controversy Rages!

According to the screaming headlines of our local paper:

Proposed University Heights Development Controversial

Here is a view of the proposed commercial building at the front of the site:

Here is the condominium tower to the back of the site:

Here is an arial view of the property with the adjustment made to Sunset Street:

I went to the third and final open meeting that the developer had scheduled to tell community residents about the plan and solicit feedback. I wrote about the first one here: A Grocery Store! This one had about the same number of people as the first, it sounds like the second one was similar.

Lots of people are dead set against this. They do not want the community to change. I guess as a relatively new resident of the community, and someone with young children, I view it a little differently. I think in general the proposal is a good one. I think the commercial development is very good, and understand that to make it profitable and viable the upscale condominium has to be there too.

Just a few quick ideas

* Shouting at a developer, and interrupting a presentation at a voluntary meeting to share information is just plain stupid and rude. I don't care if you are a doctor or lawyer (as two of the worst offenders were, I kept looking around for an Indian Chief to join in with them) The time to engage in those tactics will be at Planning and Zoning Comission and City Council.

*The inital proposal for the residential tower was 9 stories in the middle, stair-stepped down to 6 on the wings. Their presentation at the final meeting was 7 stories stair-stepped down to 5. People are going crazy over how this will stick out. But Kinnick Stadium's new pressbox on the eastern border of University Heights is taller than the 9 story tower. I haven't heard people complain about that.

*I suggest that if this gets approved the first thing the city council does with increased tax revenue is create a fund for the purchase of the woodland on the north edge of town to create a permanent green space there.


Jenni said...

The biggest thing I worry about with developments is traffic planning. So many times the development company only worries about the property not the cause and effects of getting to and leaving the property.

Mike said...

Hey Jenni,

I know exactly what you're talking about. In this case they've even had ideas about planning traffic. The intersection where this sits is at a bad angle, part of the development is to change one of the streets. As presented, lane barriers will prevent left hand turns out of both ends of the development, and will have turn lanes to get in from the major arterial street that runs along the front.

That major arterial road, bisecting U-Heights,is four lanes until the city limit, goes down to two lanes, then after crossing the railroad bridge at the other city limit goes back to four lanes again! One could argue that a major reason for our municipal existence is to keep Melrose from becoming 4 lanes all the way from the interstate to the hospital...

Jenni said...

Wow sounds like they are being very thoughtful in their planning phase. That is a definate plus.

Mike said...

Exactly! That's what frustrates me is that people can't be civil during an informational meeting.

We are a city of 1,000 surrounded by a city of 70,000. Our only major commercial property got bought by the University of Iowa thereby taking it off our tax roles. That is going to result in at least a 15% revenue cut to the city. This development will be an increse of up to 75%.

The condominiums have a projected price range of 400K to 2Mil. Median house price in the greater Iowa City area is 175K.

Without some infusion of commercial development, as a landlocked community I think our only other option in the long run is to be annexed into Iowa City...

StuccoHouse said...

People these days just don't know how to intelligently disagree anymore. These days it's all about shouting the loudest and smearing the other side. It's rarely about logically reviewing the facts and speaking on an informed basis about why you might disagree (your present post an exception;-). It seems to me to get worse every year (and double time during elections). We need to bring back classes like debate, statistics, logic....and manners.

Hope things workout for your neighborhood!