UI to purchase remainder of the Old Capitol Town Center in 2025

The University of Iowa is planning to purchase the remainder of the Old Capitol Town Center in 2025. They currently co-manage it with the Hodge Commercial Development and have ownership of around 60 percent of the building.


Lillie Hawker

The Old Capitol Mall is seen in Iowa City on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. (Lillie Hawker/The Daily Iowan)

Kate Perez, News Reporter

Standing adjacent to the Pentacrest, the Old Capitol Town Center has been enjoyed by the Iowa City community since it opened in 1981. By 2025, the University of Iowa will have complete ownership of the building. 

Currently, the Old Capitol Town Center, also known as the Old Capitol Mall,  is partially owned by the UI and partially by a condo association owned by Hodge Commercial Development. The Hodge group leases out the majority of the first floor for shops and restaurants. 

The university has a share in the condo association, and both groups jointly operate the mall, said David Kieft, UI campus planning and development business manager.  

“Back in 2006 and 2008, we acquired most of the upper level of the mall,” Kieft said. “There’s the international programs, that part of the first floor is also owned by the university so it’s 60 some odd percent we already have of the mall.” 

The university leasing space in the mall came after the flood of 2008 that damaged 22 buildings. While recovering from the flood, the UI bookstore and parts of the school of music were located there while their buildings were repaired, Kieft said. 

Rod Lehnertz, senior vice president for UI finance and operations, said the flood gave them a new view of the mall as a necessity to the university, as the Iowa Memorial Union was housed there for a number of years.  

“This became one of our student centers, became our union space and even though we recovered the IMU, it has remained a very important space for university students,” he said. 

The Old Capitol Town Center contains UI QuickCare, University Counseling Services, UI International Programs, and other university services. In the store directory, all UI-associated buildings are under the name University Capitol Center. 

When the UI purchased the upper floor in 2006, it signed an agreement giving the option to purchase the remainder of the building in 2025 as long as the Hodge group was notified by 2024, Kieft said. 

The Old Capitol Town Center purchase was included in the 10-year master plan for the UI presented to the state Board of Regents on Jan. 12. The regents approved the plan, but have not looked into the specifics of the projects proposed in the plan, Senior Communications Director Josh Lehman wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan.

“Any of the specific projects mentioned would need to come before the Board again for approval to move forward,” Lehman wrote. “That future presentation would include official project budget and timeline.”

As of right now, there are no plans on what to do with the vacant spaces in the mall, Kieft said, but they plan to honor all leases currently there and look to develop a vision in the coming years that will benefit both the university community and students. 

“We recognize the value of having, especially in a student-centered place, retail, having food options,” Lehnertz said. “Those kinds of things are important to the students.”

The university is planning to purchase the remainder of the mall to keep it campus-owned and to benefit the students, Lehnertz said, as opposed to a third party buying out the building.

“We continue to see it as a stronger and stronger part of the university’s mission in serving the students of the University of Iowa,” Lehnertz said. “That’s why the site being so co-located with the core of our campus is strategically a right place for us to occupy it, program it for the generations to come.”

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