LANE4 seeks student, community input for Campustown renovations

Micaela Cashman

Plans for the looming Campustown renovation are currently on hold as LANE4 still has not presented their ideas to the Ames City Council or signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which would define the two parties’ roles and responsibilities in the project.

Originally, LANE4 was to present to the City Council in January but asked for an extension. Since then, the meeting has continued to be pushed back.

“I think every time that we come back here, you’re going to start to see a little bit more and more detail emerge as we’re able to drill down on some of the big issues,” Hunter Harris, LANE4 director of development, said in January.

Since their last visit to Ames, Harris and senior associate Trip Ross have stressed their need for student input.

“Once we actually have a plan to show people that will help spark conversation, there will be a lot more engaging with different groups – students specifically, obviously,” Ross said.

Harris said he wants Campustown to be a place students can take pride in and take their parents to and visit as alumni. He said he views students as partners in the process and needs input for the project to be successful.

The renovation would include creating more green space in the area, building a hotel and pharmacy on opposite corners of Welch Avenue and Lincoln Way and putting up a parking garage.

These plans have sparked controversy in the business community. Current Campustown business owners are worried they will be run out of the area because they will not be able to afford to stay there.

“The rent will probably go up. That’s what you have to expect when you move from a rundown building built in … oh, probably the early 1900s from what I can tell to newly developed properties. The prices are going to be some of the highest in Ames; that’s just what happens,” Matthew Goodman, owner of Fighting Burrito, gyro and Super Dog street vending and Battles BBQ, said.

“I would guess that almost every business will end up relocating, or they’ll just disappear.”

Ross said LANE4 has been conducting focus groups to see what the community would most like to see in Campustown.

“What this ultimately comes down to is, we need to deliver a project that people want to go to, that they want to support. So we’re trying to figure out the best way to achieve that.”

He acknowledged that Campustown has its unique character because of the local businesses and hopes to be able to work with current tenants to find them a place in the area.

Regardless of what happens to Campustown, it will not be happening for a while as LANE4, the city and the university still need to finalize agreements before going ahead with the project.