City Council endorses ISU Research Park expansion


Steve Schainker, left, discusses a broad overview of the research park at the City Council meeting on April 1 at Town Hall.

Emelie Knobloch

The City Council passed a resolution endorsing the ISU Research Park expansion project on April 1.

The resolution directed staff to submit the “Revitalize Iowa’s Sound Economy” grant application, the request for funding, to the Iowa Department of Transportation.

ISU officials had asked the city to apply for RISE Grants from the Iowa Department of Transportation.

The Iowa Legislature created the RISE fund in 1985 to assist in promoting economic development in Iowa through the construction or improvement of Iowa roads, according to the IDOT website.

The RISE program is designed to maximize economic impact and emphasize local involvement and initiative, according to the IDOT website.

“The RISE grant provides 80 percent funding,” said City Manager Steve Schainker. “They do not entertain giving out all the funding in one year, so the project might have to be spread out.”

Representatives of Iowa State have been working with the city’s staff to plan for the expansion of the Research Park.

“The RISE Grant requires 365 jobs for the project,” Schainker said. “If we don’t meet this number, we will have to pay the grant back.”

The planning for this project was sped up because the state legislature granted $12 million for a new building that would serve as the base for further expansion.

“There are a lot of other things that have to be done other than the $12 million building,” said councilman Peter Orazem.

This $12 million comes with a requirement that the new building be completed by June 2016.

“It seems like a long time away, but we have a lot to get done,” Schainker said. “We have a lot of typical city council actions that will be needed here.”

Before the building can be constructed, a new infrastructure must be made to service the site.

“The estimated costs are just estimates,” Schainker said. “We have everything estimated at $11,443,265.”

The new site must also be annexed into the city, rezoned and subdivided.

“The ISU Research Park would be in charge of obtaining land and much of the infrastructure components,” Schainker said.

In Phase III of the project, there are three stages: Stage A1, A2 and B.

“Stage A comes as soon as this summer,” Schainker said. “Stage B comes as soon as the next summer. All we are applying for now are stages A1 and A2.”

The first part of stage A includes the construction of a roundabout at the intersection of the Airport Road and University Avenue.

“A lot of people have talked about having a roundabout in Ames, so we are going to try it here,” Schainker said.

The next part of stage A would be to widen the existing section of University Avenue adjacent to WebFilings south to the current city limits.

“If we approve the application for the RISE grant while the grant is going through the application process, is the expansion process still going on?” said councilwoman Gloria Betcher.

Schainker said that the expansion process would still be going on.