A New ‘Front Door’ for Tiffin
TIFFIN — If it hasn’t been already clear that Tiffin is no longer that small, sleepy rural community just a stone’s throw from Iowa City, a proposed development that will bring a mix of single- and multi-family residential, and commercial development to town will forever change that perception.
City leaders are working with Coralville developer Scott Andersen and his Andersen Development company to create Park Place, a 265-acre land-use plan on the northeast side of the city. The area – now just rolling farm fields with two major roads, both gravel in them – is just off Interstate 380.
The north edge of the development will be just off the new Forevergreen Road interchange from Interstate 380.
If all goes according to plan, the growth impact on Tiffin would be “significant,” according to mayor Steve Berner.
“I don’t remember what the number was but it’ll be significant,” he said.
City administrator Doug Boldt said the plan, which has been several years in the works, is in the “approval” phase, meaning that officials are working with developers and other planners to finalize specifics, in anticipation for moving dirt by early 2017.
“It really is neat and fun,” said Boldt. “There’s a lot of growth here, and basically we’re hearing Scott say this another front door to the city.
“Since the DOT made plans for the interchange and that has basically become a reality, it was known there was potential for development in the area,” he said.
Andersen, in a telephone interview, called Park Place a “planned community.” He has been behind several other developments in nearby Coralville and North Liberty, including Deerfield, Progress Park and the West Lake subdivision.
“I hate to use the term ‘city center,’ but I think of it as a place where some people work, eat, live … that someday that will be downtown Tiffin,” he said. “If we look at the access to Tiffin, there will be significant change to traffic and how traffic enters and leaves. People’s habits of driving will be changed.”
The development will be among those having a major impact on the Clear Creek Amana School District as well. The district is currently reviewing a facilities study, which could involve construction of a new elementary school and additions to the high school within the next five years, and Andersen said he has been in conversations with superintendent Tim Kuehl and school board members about future growth.
“They’re fully aware of what’s going on and taking place. They’re a good group of people, led by Kuehl, and pretty proactive. They understand growth is happening and are completely positive to do what they can to accommodate it,” said Andersen.
According to a PowerPoint presentation presented by Andersen, the plan calls for approximately 54 acres of medium- and high-density residential, 108 acres of commercial and 76 acres of single-family and townhome development. There’s also about 52 acres of mixed-use development included.
The single-family and townhome development would include, according to Andersen’s land-use plan, about 188 single-family homes and 28 townhome units, and an area for an optional church site. The medium- and high-density residential has a mix of senior housing, affordable rental units and family units. Multiple options are available for the commercial development, including restaurants, gas stations and retail box stores.
Plans would have to get underway to upgrade Park Road, which goes past Tiffin Elementary School on the city’s east end north to Forevergreen Road. Both roads are gravel and would require paving by the Iowa Department of Transportation.
In 1970, Tiffin’s population was 299; by 2015 it was closing in on 3,000 residents. Berner said he believes Andersen, given his background and success of previous developments, has the ability to make Park Place a reality, and if it does, the population would grow quite substantially.
For things to start, he noted that a public hearing is required to amend the urban renewal area in that area, and a public hearing is set for the Tuesday, Oct. 4, meeting. Up to three readings of the ordinance would be required before work on a memorandum of understanding with the developer would begin. That memorandum, said Berner, would include specifics of the plan, who handles what aspects of the development, who has design authority and so forth. That work will probably last most of the winter.
Then, plans would begin to improve Park Road to Forevergreen Road, in anticipation for the interchange opening within the next two years. Andersen said work has started on engineering and design of Park Road, with the end goal of having the main arterial roads paved and in place before the interchange opens by the Iowa Department of Transportation’s targeted opening date of spring 2019.
“It doesn’t have to be widened a whole lot. We’re not looking at huge right-of-way purchases,” said Berner.
Article by The Press Citizen: https://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/local/amana-clear-creek/2016/09/20/new-front-door-tiffin/90732970/