New tower will cast a shadow over Iowa City

By: Katie Mons

When you walk down the streets of New York or Chicago, you have to crane your neck to attempt to see the top of buildings. Skyscrapers tower throughout the city, and it’s no surprise. They are meant to be in those cities. They fit in and belong there.

But in Iowa City?

When you walk down the streets of Iowa City, you see quirky shops, university buildings, apartments, dorms and unique restaurants. Most buildings don’t surpass about 14 stories, and Iowa City is definitely not a huge city. A skyscraper would not fit the town. Just look at the surrounding buildings. The tallest buildings are the plaza towers, and sometimes those feel slightly out of place. A building that’s even taller is not made for the college town.

The Chauncey, the name for the future Marc Moen building, will be built at the corner of Gilbert and College Streets. The project is expensive; $53.8 million dollars plus the tax increment financing that Moen is requesting. The building would include two movie theaters, a cafe, hotel rooms, a bowling alley, offices and residential space. As great as that all sounds, are they really necessary?

First off, look at the location. It will be on the outskirts of the campus, surrounded by small, dissimilar buildings which will illustrate its ill-fitting stature. Secondly, Iowa City already has two beautiful movie theaters at the Coral Ridge Mall and Sycamore Mall–another one isn’t necessary. Iowa City has several cafes and restaurants along with very nice hotels such as the Sheraton and Hotel Vetro. Additionally,  there already exist plenty of apartments and places to live in Iowa City. The Chauncey promises no unique or essential additions to downtown.

This new building would also cast a literal shadow on several of the smaller surrounding buildings, one of which is a small Episcopal church nearby. Members of the church argue that The Chauncy’s looming shadow would block the sunlight their church receives and tower over them. Without natural light to illuminate their sanctuary, a damper will be placed on the service every Sunday morning. Similarly sized buildings in that area would also be cast into darkness by the construction of this new tower.

There is nothing about this project that stands out in a positive way; it is just a huge, unnecessary waste of money. Iowa City already has existing structures to meet its needs without the addition of this monstrosity. If this was a town that was Chicago-sized, even Des Moines-sized, maybe then The Chauncy would be appropriate. However, with the noticeably smaller size and feel of Iowa City, this tower will be hard-pressed to find acceptable within the city.