Iowa City City Council buys properties for potential Amtrak Iowa City to Chicago route

The Iowa City City Council approved the purchase of three residential properties on Tuesday that will provide space for a potential Chicago to Iowa City Amtrak rail route.

Isabelle Foland, News Reporter

Iowa City City Council approved a request to purchase three residential properties near the Iowa Interstate Railroad rail yard on Tuesday to provide space for a potential Amtrak rail route between Chicago and Iowa City.

City of Iowa City staff negotiated a deal to buy 800 S. Van Buren St., 804 S. Van Buren St., and 817 S. Webster St. for $475,000. The total appraisal value for the properties is $507,000.

According to the meeting’s agenda, all three properties are located directly south of the Iowa Interstate Railroad rail yard and west of Oak Grove Park.

Additionally, the Chicago to Quad Cities rail route is already under construction, and Amtrak identified an extension of this route to Iowa City as a part of its fifteen-year vision. Amtrak released the plan in 2021.

City Manager Geoff Fruin said even if the Amtrak route does not end up being built in this specific location, the acquisition of the properties can be helpful in other ways.

“It also provides the city in the future, regardless of the Amtrak route, the ability to extend Oak Grove Park kind of in a linear fashion along the rail line should that be a priority in the future,” Fruin said.

The council passed the motion to approve the acquisition of these properties unanimously.