Post-flood redevelopment in Iowa City


Photo by bettysalive, Flickr

The City of Iowa City and the EPA are working together to redevelop an area damaged by the 2008 floods. This area, known as Riverfront Crossings, is bordered by Riverside Drive to the west, Gilbert Street to the east, Highway 6 to the south and Burlington Street to the north. A press release by the City of Iowa City reports that this redevelopment will include a new park, flood mitigating developments and possibly the new University of Iowa School of Music:

Riverfront Crossings is well-situated for redevelopment due to its accessible location and budding potential for private investment. The district is adjacent to the downtown and the Iowa River, proximate to major employers, well served by public transportation, and intersected by a regional trail network, arterial streets and two rail lines. The University of Iowa is investing in the area, through the newly constructed recreation center and the planned re-location of the UI School of Music and Clapp Recital Hall. Johnson County recently expanded their offices and opened a new facility in the heart of the district. The wastewater treatment plant in the southwest portion of the district is slated to be removed and the area transformed into a riverfront park, which will be designed to better absorb flood waters from both Ralston Creek and the Iowa River and include trails, boat access, beautiful river views and other amenities that would attract private residential and/or commercial development to park-side properties.

In 2009, as a part of post-flood recovery efforts, the City recieved a grant of technical assistance through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Smart Growth Assistance Program. The City of Iowa City worked with EPA representatives and private planning consultants to survey the neighborhood, interview property and business owners and other stakeholders, and conduct several public input sessions. Through this process, the EPA and their planning consultants compiled the research and public input, from which they drafted a number of policy recommendations relating to future economic development potential, changes to land use and urban form, and enhancements to transportation options for the area.(See sidebar to download copies of these 2009 policy recommendations).

To build on this effort and further refine plans for the area, the City competed for and was one of only five cities in the nation to receive a grant from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a joint initiative of the EPA, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). This grant provides technical assistance to create a more detailed plan for a sub-area of Riverfront Crossings, which includes areas along South Gilbert Street, Ralston Creek, the Iowa River, and the site of the City’s North Wastewater Treatment Plant on Kirkwood Avenue.

A PDF file that includes a lengthy description of the project is available here.

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