Campustown revitalization on the way

Kingland Systems, a database software company currently located in the old movie theater on Lincoln Way, has bought nine buildings in the Campustown area.

Thaddeus Mast

A new revitalization effort is coming to Campustown, specifically across from Lake LaVerne on Lincoln Way and along Welch Avenue.

Kingland Systems, a database software company currently located in the old theater on Lincoln Way, has bought nine buildings in the Campustown area.

“A good portion of the space will be used for our own needs and we’re planning right now what we’re going to do related to that, whether that’ll be an existing facility or a new facility,” said Todd Rognes, chief financial officer of Kingland Systems.

“We’re in discussions with some other parties about possibly assuming some of that additional space. I expect that would be a mix of retail and office needs,” Rognes said. “We’ll use, I would say, approximately 40 percent of the space. The other 60 percent would be available to other parties.”

Kingland may sell or rent some of the property to Iowa State, according to Warren Madden, vice president of business and finance.

“They’re working on their plans about exactly what they will do, and in the last conversation we had with them, they indicated that we’ll be back in touch with the university, sometime in the near future, about what they want. We haven’t made any formal commitments yet,” Madden said.

The tenants currently occupying the purchased properties will not be forced to leave.

“Our intent is to honor all the leases of the tenants who are there,” Rognes said.

Kingland’s revitalization effort comes on the heels of the failed Kansas City property group LANE4 effort three years ago. Madden is more hopeful of this renewal effort, however.

“I think we are more encouraged this will move along for a couple reasons: One, Kingland has, in fact, acquired the real estate. When LANE4 was working on this, they had options, but never really actually acquired the real estate. Secondly, the economy today is really better than it was when this was going on three or four years ago. There seems to be a lot more interest in Campustown,” Madden said. “I think the Campustown environment is much better than it was four years ago.”

While the buildings are already purchased, change will not happen immediately, especially if construction is involved.

“Our expectation is that we would look at building a new building. But the planning for that will happen during the first and second quarter of 2013,” Rognes said.

“These kinds of projects take time,” Madden said.

Campustown already has changes on the way. The Kum & Go at the corner of Welch Avenue and Chamberlain Street is looking to expand. The Chamber of Commerce Campustown Organization has hired an executive director and is “actively involved in trying to expand the Campustown area,” Madden said.

“We’d like to see more retail, restaurant and food establishments in the Campustown area, and I’m hopeful that some of that will come to be as a result of some of this interest and activity,” Madden said. “Ames is an area that appears to have some re-energizing and some revitalization of its retail areas, and all of that is good for the community and university students, as well as faculty and staff.”

Rognes explained Kingland System’s excitement for the future.

“The Ames operation for us and the company is very important for us and being close to the university is very important as well, so we’re very excited that we were able to acquire these parcels and look forward to doing something here in 2013 and 2014 with the space,” Rognes said.