The Daily Iowan

Moss "Green" business park to begin construction in Iowa City


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Owners of the former Moss Dairy Farm said the first leg of the multimillion dollar, 170-acre Moss Ridge Campus office park could kick off as soon as this summer, following a more than two-year delay. 

When ground was first broken in 2010, the then-Moss Green Urban Village was billed as a first in the nation “macro green” business park to be located north of  Iowa City. 

Preliminary proposals called for a $220 million mixed-use development in which shops, live-work spaces, and office space worked in unison alongside natural woodland and streams at the intersection of Interstate 80 and Highway 1. Eco-4 Partners LLC of Des Moines and the Linden Group Inc. of Orland Park, Ill., proposed the original development.

The owner of the former Moss Dairy Farm, Steve Moss, said his grandfather first bought the land in the 1920s before it was divided in half by the construction of Interstate 80 in the 1960s.

“We’ll have better use of [it] as developed land than farmland,” Moss said. “We’re trying to open it up for the people of Iowa City. We’re finding that we can do a class-A office park and take care of the environment at the same time. It will be Iowa City’s business park.”

In comparison, the UI Research Park covers roughly 500 acres.

Moss said that 50 acres will remain undeveloped and construction on nearly 45 acres of phase 1 could follow the access road from Pearson’s Iowa City campus set to begin this summer.

“It’s a valuable project for the city of Iowa City,” he said. “It could open the potential for 20 lots, depending on the lots and the needs. We want to create jobs.”

Jeff Davidson, the city’s Iowa City director of planning and development, said the current proposal for the Moss Ridge Campus remains similar to the original development, with a smaller and less expensive initial footprint and a greater emphasis on office space.

“It’s basically the same property, but it’s biting off a smaller piece of it and a piece that’s adjacent to Pearson,” he said. “We did get the [Revitalize Iowa’s Sound Economy program] grant for half the expense [$1.9 million] from extending the access road from Highway 1 into the property to get it developed.”

On Feb. 12, the Iowa Transportation Commission approved the grant from the state program to provide part of the funding to build about 2,100 feet of the Moss Ridge access road and reconstruct roughly 2,300 feet of Highway 1 north of Interstate 80 for access to the park. 

Iowa City economic-development coordinator Wendy Ford said the location and geographical features of the park make it an attractive location for businesses looking for space in the 20,000-50,000 square-foot range.

Given the physical footprint of the companies that are often located in office park settings, she said she doesn’t anticipate it competing with downtown, because it tends to be smaller and denser. The Pedestrian Mall is located roughly 2 miles to the south. Total build out, she added, could come in 10 years, depending on the price per building.

“It’s really hard to estimate,” she said. “On phase one, if we do a real back of the envelope estimation, with simple buildings, fairly standard costs per square foot, the [first] nine lots could be valued at $48 million. It’s going to have great visibility to the interstate and woodlands. We get a lot of interest from tenants who want several thousand square feet of space.”