Proposed Riverfront Crossings development awaits Iowa City City Council approval

A proposed complex apartment complex, located on Prentiss and Gilbert Streets, was recommended for approval by the Iowa City Zoning Commission.


Ryan Adams

The corner of South Gilbert and Prentiss Street is seen on September 11, 2019. The southwest corner is where the proposed building will be located. (Ryan Adams/The Daily Iowan).

Rylee Wilson, News Reporter

A proposed eight-story development could bring improvements to Ralston Creek and provide more options for housing near downtown Iowa City where many University of Iowa students opt to live. 

The Iowa City Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the project Sept. 5. It awaits final approval from the Iowa City City Council.

The development, proposed by Capstone Collegiate Communities, would be located at the intersection of East Prentiss and South Gilbert Streets. The plan required a rezoning of the Riverfront Crossings District.

The proposed site for the development is located in two separate subdistricts of Riverfront Crossings. The most notable differences between the two districts, according to the zoning commission report, are land use, the maximum building height, and the maximum bonus height. 

The maximum building height for the district is four stories. The development is eligible for approval of up to eight stories, based on proposed public-art contributions and Leadership in Environmental Energy and Design certification.

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The building will contain three floors for parking and five floors for residences, as well as 178 residential units.

Capstone Collegiate Communities will propose improvements to the Ralston Creek area, including adding a pedestrian walkway off of South Gilbert Street.

Although new high-end apartment buildings are appearing all over downtown Iowa City, UI Student Government City Liaison Austin Wu said there’s no concern for higher rent prices in existing units.

“The rents in this building will be pretty high, and they will probably stay that way for a while, like a lot of the new construction in the Riverfront Crossings District,” he said. “But I don’t think this building alone will raise rents.”

Anne Russet, senior planner for Iowa City, said the improvement of Ralston Creek was a recommended condition of approving the rezoning of the Riverfront Crossings District to accommodate the development. 

“We’re recommending a conditioning of the rezoning that the applicant make improvements to Ralston Creek, so taking out invasive species,” Russet said. “In terms of what that actually looks like — we don’t know. We’re asking that the applicant provide plans to the city for review and approval.” 

Russet said more specifics will be discussed when the project moves into the design and housing phase after the city council approves the rezoning. The council would also have to approve the eight-story design proposal. 

Wu said the close-to-campus complex will likely be a positive development for students. 

“This will put some increased downward pressure on existing units. Even though rent on the new buildings, or the fancier, more attractive buildings are going to stay high, some of the older buildings … we’ll see rent at the very least stay flat or possibly go down,” Wu said. “I would say this should be a positive development from a student’s perspective.” 

Kelsey Harrell contributed to this report.

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