Campustown experiences makeover


Charlie Coffey/Iowa State Daily

Campustown has undergone a transformation recently, welcoming many new businesses including Kingland Systems, a financial software company. Once it opens, Kingland will be located on the corner of Welch and Lincoln Way.

Audra Kincart

When students returned to campus for the fall semester, Campustown had a new and improved appearance. 

With the redevelopment projects happening in the area, Campustown’s reputation continues to evolve. 

Although the fate of Campustown’s status is left to speculation, the idea for these changes has been years in the making with what is known as the Lane 4 project.

Lane 4 project

The Lane 4 project was an administrative initiative that started in 2003 with then-president Gregory Geoffroy.

The Campustown area was unattractive for prospective students visiting the ISU campus. 

Not only did Campustown feel unsafe, the run-down appearance often contributed to a student’s decision of attending Iowa State or a different university.

In 2006, the Ames City Council made the Campustown redevelopment a priority and evaluated a request for approval for the Lane 4 project. 

The vision of the project included the corner of Welch and Lincoln Way and the west side of Campustown, covering a six-block area.

With the recession in 2008, and the extensive renovation taking place at North Grand Mall, the Lane 4 project never came to fruition.

What is happening today?

Senior Vice President of Business and Finance Warren Madden said the Kingland Systems project on the corner of Welch and Lincoln Way was the project that kicked off the Campustown reconstruction.

The 75,000-square-foot building will consist of three levels with CVS pharmacy located on the main floor. 

Kingland will be located on the third floor and Iowa State has leased the second floor.

Multiple university-related offices will be relocated to the second floor, including the Iowa State Daily, the ISU Foundation PhoneCenter, University Relations, Institutional Research and other research units that do administrative work for the vice president of research.

Classes will fill the vacant space left behind by those offices. 

“I’m hoping all of this will spark continued redevelopment in Campustown,” Madden said.

Not only does the building on the corner of Welch and Lincoln Way provide updated facilities for ISU students, Kingland Systems has hired more than 100 ISU employees. 

The new apartment buildings located on Lincoln Way have also provided students the option of high-scale living.


“What we would like to see Campustown be is more than bars and tattoo parlors,” Madden said.

The redevelopment has sparked talk about further ideas that are still on an “aspirational level,” Madden said. 

One such aspiration is with College Creek. 

College Creek runs in a pipe under Campustown, and one idea for the area is to open the creek and have cafés and restaurants located along the bank. 

Another idea that stems from the Lane 4 project is a movie theater that would serve as a lecture hall throughout the day and a movie theater at night. 

Campustown could eventually boast an art gallery to its roster.


With the large amount of changes Campustown has witnessed, challenges have surfaced throughout the process of the redevelopment. 

High-rise buildings now surround the Episcopal Church for the first time in the congregation’s history, and the area south of Campustown is still heavily residential. 

Both of these demographics will have to accept the transition of these changes.


Madden said feedback has been generally positive, but university officials, including President Steven Leath and Vice President of Student Affairs Tom Hill, are awaiting more feedback aside from what Madden has received.

What do Campustown businesses think?

Robert Josephson, Mayhem Comics and Games owner, said the retail is an excellent addition to the Campustown businesses.

Mayhem Comics and Games has been located in Campustown for 25 years. 

“Services are fantastic but most of the time they come in, get their stuff and then they will leave,” Josephson said. “I’m looking forward to all the retail because I think there will be more traffic.”

The biggest change Mayhem experienced that hurt its business was when Campustown changed the traffic flow. 

Combined with the removal of the two towers, Mayhem saw less foot traffic, which resulted in a decrease in business.

Café Beaudelaire owner Claudio Gianello hasn’t put much thought into the changes.

“I really haven’t put much thought in it,” Gianello said. “I just react to what comes or doesn’t come. I’m sure it will help out, to what extent.”

Gianello said the only two businesses that have been in Campustown as long as his are Welch Avenue Station and Cy’s Roost.

Gianello said he thinks he has lost some business to Starbucks. But he added that Starbucks doesn’t  have Kahlua or Bailey’s.

Café Beaudelaire has been located in Campustown for 26 years. 


For the future of Campustown, Madden only has hopes.

“I hope we will continue to see modernization over there [Campustown], and the rest of the community will patronize,” Madden said.