LANE4 to request extension on Campustown renovations


Photo: Whitney Sager/Iowa State Daily

The corner of Welch Avenue and Lincoln Way has changed drastically over the years. Many of the bars used to be on Main Street, but now they are along Welch Avenue and in Campustown.

Kaitlin Miner

LANE4, the property development group looking to renovate Campustown, is expected to seek an extension of their development agreement until the end of November at the Ames City Council meeting on June 28.

Originators of the Campustown renovation project aim to build multistory buildings near the southern corners of Lincoln Way and Welch Avenue. They intend one building on the southeast corner to house a grocery store or pharmacy on its main floor and office space on the upper levels.

On the southwestern corner of Lincoln Way and Welch Avenue, they are hoping to place retail space on the main level and a hotel on the upper floors.

Iowa State has been approached about the office space that LANE4 is planning to include in one of its multi-story buildings.

“I think LANE4 has proposed that Iowa State be the tenant that would occupy space. We then would have the ability to sublease space to other groups,” said Warren Madden, Iowa State’s vice president of business and finance. “Some of those could be activities that are at Iowa State right now. It’s possible that they could be other activities that are interested in coming into the area.”

Hunter Harris, LANE4’s director of development, said that several new factors influence the need for an extension.

“Right now, we are in a holding pattern due to the global economy and the great recession that we’re currently in,” Harris said. “To further impact that, the project has suffered some setbacks due to President Geoffroy leaving Iowa State University, [as he] was a real cheer champion for this project.”

Cuts in higher education have also caused the project to be delayed, Harris said. He explained that the cuts have made it difficult for Iowa State to support the project financially.

“Hopefully, things change in the state legislature so that Iowa State is able to commit to the project,” Harris said. “Without their commitment, it makes the first phase of this project almost impossible to do. So, as of this point, we’re looking for the additional time to hopefully work that out.”

Madden said he believes finding an economic solution is necessary to futher the progress of Campustown renovations.

“The challenges that LANE4 [have], I think, is acquiring all of the real estate in the Campustown area … and finding tenants that would go into various projects that might happen in Campustown,” Madden said. “That’s been impacted by the economy, and — up until the present time, anyway — retail and restaurant growth has been significantly impacted by the economy.

Madden said that Iowa State is supportive of the project, but he explained that the project must work economically for all involved.

Harris said that LANE4 developers have invested two years in the Campustown renovation project. He explained that the company has suffered setbacks in its relationship with the university.

“We sent a request to the university … and we’re looking for a kind of an ‘in-or-out’ sort of decision from them because we have other retailers who would be pending on that commitment,” Harris said. “So either the project would need to go on hold indefinitely, or we need to get busy moving forward.”