Preview: City Council to hold workshop on the vision for Campustown


Ames City Council meets for their consideration on a rental cap proposal at their May 22 meeting. 

Devyn Leeson

Big investments and changes could be coming to Campustown following the July 17 City Council meeting.

A workshop on Campustown vision and the second passage of rental cap hardship exemptions will be discussed at the Tuesday City Council meeting.

The goals for the workshop are to “encourage vibrancy in Campustown,” according to the city council website.

They intend to accomplish this through three tasks including reviewing a Campustown report, building on the report and making plans for improvements along Welch Avenue.

Reviewing the report from spring of this year will help create insights into how the city could encourage investment in Campustown. This report be presented alongside the Campustown Action Association (CAA), who is in partnership with the Ames Chamber of Commerce and Iowa State University, to serve as a catalyst for private and public partnership in the Campustown area.

In the upcoming fiscal year, the City of Ames has allotted $30,650 to CAA to help accomplish their goals.

The workshop will also include “Campustown property owners, business owners, Campustown residents, ISU Student Government, and other stakeholders to discuss their vision for Campustown,” the City Council website said.

Depending on what the Council’s vision is for Campustown they will decide on varying plans to make improvements along Welch Avenue during the fall of 2018.

Their plans will range from three options they have teased since as far back as February with all including rezoning in some way around Campustown. For the full details on different rezoning plans go to the City Council’s page on the City of Ames website

This isn’t the first time Campustown visioning has happened. In 2016, City Council did a Urban Revitalization Area (URA) plan that succeeded in increasing Campustown investment.

The URA provided criteria for a property tax abatement along the 2700 block of Lincoln Way, the area currently known as the Union.

The improvements under the URA included structured parking, enhanced public safety standards and building design requirements.

This week’s City Council meeting will also include the second passage of the rental cap ordinance exemptions. The second passage was supposed to happen at last week’s meeting but large changes proposed at the meeting caused the council to push the decision back.

The changes include a limitation to make it so a Letter of Compliance (LoC), the document needed to rent a property, can’t be transferred when a property is sold, an amendment reducing the number of permits that could qualify an individual to get an LoC and a time adjustment for the period someone had to have made changes to their home to qualify for an LoC.

Members of the Ames community will be able to argue for or against the changes before the Council pushes for the second passage of the ordinance.

The rental cap exemptions ordinance, if passed, would provide multiple avenues for relief for people who have had financial hardships as a result of the rental cap passed last May.

The cap limited the number of rental homes in neighborhoods near campus to 25 percent but grandfathered in rental homes in neighborhoods already above the 25 percent cap.