Letter: Student liaison explains Campustown redevelopment project

Greetings, fellow ISU students. For those of you who do not know, the city of Ames has a very unique position within its government: the Ex-Officio Student Liaison to the Ames City Council. I currently hold this GSB-appointed position, and one goal of mine this semester is to have open communication from the City Council and GSB to the students and vice-versa. Throughout the coming semester, I hope that I can communicate to you what is going on in the city of Ames right now, and most importantly, how it will affect you, as students and residents of this city.

The biggest issue that most students ask me about currently is the Campustown redevelopment project. I hear a lot of concern from students as to what will happen to the Campustown that we have all come to know and love. You have probably heard something about LANE4 and Campustown revitalization already, but I would like to shed some light on some of the questions I’ve been asked.

How much of Campustown is going to be redeveloped?

The city of Ames and Iowa State, along with the developer, LANE4 Property Group, have indicated the target revitalization area as the land one-half block south of Lincoln Way, from Stanton to Hayward Avenue. Regardless of any early concept plans you may have seen at this point, this is currently the targeted area.

How much has LANE4 been paid to redevelop Campustown?

Neither the city of Ames nor Iowa State have paid LANE4 Property Group, the developer selected to work on a redevelopment project, any money to date. The City Council approved a Master Developer Agreement with LANE4 on May 25, 2010, which simply gave LANE4 the security as the master developer to proceed with the process. LANE4 was selected through an request for proposal process that included lots of public and city/university input. Their extensive experience in other college campustowns across the country set them apart from the competition. The work that LANE4 has done thus far and the information you have seen in their presentations has not cost Ames or ISU students anything. They are doing this because they are excited about the future of Campustown, and they see the potential that exists there, as do the city of Ames and Iowa State.

What is the next step in the redevelopment process?

By late February or early March, a Memorandum of Understanding will be discussed among the city of Ames, Iowa State and LANE4 Property Group. By signing this document, Ames will be showing LANE4 that they are willing to incentivize the development with various tax incentives. This is the next stage of development and will again cost the city or ISU students nothing.

What will I do on Welch Avenue during reconstruction if all the bars are torn down?

LANE4 has indicated that they will complete the project in a “phased-method,” as opposed to the rumored “leveling of the land.” We will still have a Campustown where we can all still go and enjoy ourselves during redevelopment, as they will be staging the revitalization process over a two-year time frame. Also remember, the south half of the block will remain at this time.

What will happen to the bars and restaurants that I love in Campustown?

While it is true that some existing businesses in Campustown may not remain in the Welch Avenue area, it is the goal of the project’s leaders the city of Ames and Iowa State to create a more diverse entertainment life in Campustown that will attract a broader cross section of our residents, while still retaining some of the staple establishments of the Welch Avenue scene. The project is still in its very early phases, and at this time to say with certainty that Bar XYZ will not exist when the project is finished is unreasonable.

I hope I’ve been able to answer some of the questions you might have had surrounding Campustown while shedding a little light into this exciting project. The city of Ames and Iowa State, as well as GSB and myself personally, are very excited to see this project continue forward, and I’m sure you will be hearing more about it soon.