Ames City Council discusses Urban Revitalization Plan

Tedi Mathis

Urban revitalization continued to be a hot topic at the Ames City Council meeting with the discussion of two different areas in Ames working on improving their property.

On Feb. 26, the council renewed discussion on the Urban Revitalization Area at 127 Stanton Avenue, as well as discussing tax abatement for 205 Southeast 5th St. in their Urban Revitalization process.

The discussion over 127 Stanton Ave. was a continuation from the previous meeting, where the council discussed the construction process and need for more safety factors and finished work by March 31.

“This is something we referred back to staff last time,” said Mayor Anne Campbell.

The building is in the process of installing safety screens on balconies to ensure there are no accidents with people falling, jumping or throwing things off the balconies, especially with the installation of the new rooftop pool.

“They have 24 of the actual structures in place,” said Judy Parks, acting city attorney for the city of Ames.

If the client, Campustown Investors, has not finished installing the screens by March 31, they will have to forfeit and return the tax exemption granted to them by the city through the Campustown Urban Revitalization Plan.

The Urban Revitalization Plan was also discussed in the meeting in terms of the property of Ruhl and Ruhl Commercial Company, at 205 Southeast 5th St., and their request for tax abatement.

The issue stems from the proximity of the property to water wells, which they believe qualifies them for tax abatement under a criterion of the Commercial Urban Revitalization Policy.

Steve Scott, senior vice president of the Des Moines team of Ruhl and Ruhl Commercial Company, was present to explain to the council both why the company needed the abatement and how they met the criterion.

“We’re nearly there; we think that we can make these deals if we get the tax abatements granted on the site,” Scott said.

After a lot of debate between the council and questions to Scott, the council made a motion to deny the abatement, which passed after a tie-breaking vote from Mayor Anne Campbell.

Also discussed at the meeting was a change to sign codes in Ames, and a policy change for signs of businesses that have closed. The council previously recommended this issue to staff at their Jan. 8 meeting, and city staff was present to introduce options to council.

Ames City Council also approved four requests from the Mainstreet Cultural District, including many summer events, such as the Art Walk and the Fourth of July parade and festival.