Chauncey building promises new additions by January

The Chauncey Building opened its doors last August, as did FilmScene’s new location on its main level. Now, the Fix! Coffeehouse and Chauncey Hotel and Condominiums have opened alongside them.


Katie Goodale

The concession stand is seen during a tour of the new Filmscene in the Chauncey Building on Monday, Sept. 16, 2019.

Riley Davis, News Reporter

The Chauncey, 404 E. College St., opened this fall and unveiled a new FilmScene location with additional promises of a coffee shop, bowling alley, a restaurant, a hotel, condominiums, and office space.

Currently, the two levels of recreational space include the FilmScene movie theaters on the atrium level and the bowling alley and restaurant, which both occupy the first and second levels. There’s also two floors of office space, four floors of hotel rooms, and seven floors of condominiums.

Monica Moen, co-founder of the Moen Group and owner of Fix Coffeehouse assisted with the building’s composition. Moen created the coffeehouse as a convenient luxury for the Chauncey’s residents. The coffeehouse was originally going to be a pop-up kiosk but evolved to encompass part of the second level.

“There are a lot of coffee shops in the area, so I felt the need to distinguish this coffee shop from others,” Moen said. “I’m realistic in the fact that I expect, because we’re on the periphery of the downtown, that most of our patrons are probably going to be visiting the building for another purpose.”

Fix and The Chauncey will continue to evolve as the bowling alley and restaurant are added in late January 2020, and Moen is excited to see how FilmScene will grow along with it.

Andrew Sherburne and Andy Brodie, co-founders of FilmScene, said they were able to get FilmScene off the ground through group funding from online public donations.

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The new location in the Chauncey Building was meant to be the nonprofit’s location since its founding in 2011. However, due to zoning complications and community objections towards the building, FilmScene was placed in its initial location within the Pedestrian Mall.

As previously reported by The Daily Iowan, The Chauncey cost a total of $57 million. Bids were made in 2013, and construction began in 2016.

“The community has always been very supportive of our piece of this building, and ultimately I think that people will be supportive of the building as a whole,” Sherburne said. “I think it brings a lot of vibrancy to downtown.”

The building doesn’t just benefit the Downtown District, but it also creates more visibility for FilmScene itself, Sherburne said. The corner of South Gilbert and East College Streets is a high-traffic area for vehicles and on foot, he said, which gives the nonprofit an advantage that its location in the Pedestrian Mall was unable to provide.

“Before, we were kind of tucked away and were still a secret to some people, but now it’s very obvious that we’re here,” Sherburne said. “It helps new people find us, people who didn’t know who we were or where we were. Now they know that there’s something here and hopefully, they come inside and check it out.”

RELATED: FilmScene prepares to move into Chauncey building

The Chauncey was built with walls of windows and modern architecture to catch the eye and expose what’s going on inside of the building, said James Phelps, an architect from Rohrbach Associates which assisted in the design.

“We designed it to be an exciting experience both from the massing of the various areas and for the pedestrian,” Phelps said. “The first two stories at that location are occupied by FilmScene theaters, so we wanted them to be more sculptural and engage the viewing of pedestrians and occupants.”

While the modernity of the new building created a nontraditional approach to a movie theatre, he added, it was balanced by the incorporated classical elements such as the marquee light bulbs that are woven throughout the building. This was meant to resemble the old movie palaces of Iowa City and reflect the legacy of past cinema, he said.

“This is a very memorable, unique, and striking architectural landmark and this will, hopefully, in some ways define what people think of when they think of Iowa City,” Sherburne said. “It’s such a unique space, and it represents the diversity of things that are downtown as well as its vibrancy.”