Interstate projects trigger population & development growth in northern Johnson County

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Interstate projects trigger population & development growth in northern Johnson County

TIFFIN — The completion of the new Forevergreen Road/Interstate 380 connection this coming fall and the replacement of the I-80/I-380 interchange, a project tentatively scheduled through 2024, are expected to trigger multiple developments and population spikes in northern Johnson County. 

Just west of the Forevergreen Road interchange, the city of Tiffin is working to complete its Park Road connections to Forevergreen and Highway 6 by the end of this construction season. The road projects will provide a detour when the I-80/I-380 interchange is under construction, but they also are spurring development and a likely population increase at the junction of Coralville, North Liberty and Tiffin.

Near that junction, Tiffin may soon have a new city center, a 265-acre mixed-use project by the Ders Group called Park Place, that includes apartments, houses, hotels, offices and restaurants. 

The Ders Group is the only developer currently working around the Park Road area, said Tiffin Mayor Steve Berner. 

“If it develops the way the developer is planning, it will become the heart of Tiffin, actually,” Berner said. “The good news about this is it’s along the 380 area north of town, so the current older part of town will still maintain its identity. So we’ll kind of have a combination of two towns into one, so it should work out very well.”

Tiffin was Iowa’s fastest growing city in 2017, according to population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Berner said the city estimates it has a population of close to 4,000 people, calculated by the number of water bills and average number of people per household in Tiffin.

The city had about 1,900 residents in 2010 during the last census, with most of that growth coming in the last four or five years, Berner said. 

If Tiffin’s most recent sewer study is correct, the city will likely exceed its sewer plant’s 9,000-resident capability in about six years. Expanding the plant by 2025 is in the city’s latest comprehensive plan.

“We are doing what we can to prepare for (population growth),” Berner said.

North Liberty is also expecting population growth in the area just northeast of the interchange, although the city has no specific projections, said Nick Bergus, the city’s communications director.

The city is expecting both residential and commercial development on its west side, Bergus said. The first major project is an 80-acre residential project by Watts Group, which broke ground last fall.

It’s located between Forevergreen Road and the city’s new Geico offices, which brought in about 600 workstations to North Liberty.

On the interchange’s southeast side, the large area of land between Forevergreen Road to the north, I-380 to the west, Highway 965 to the east and Highway 6 to the south is the last major piece of land to develop for Coralville. 

Mayor John Lundell said there are no projects planned in the immediate future, partly because there are no water or sewer connections available that far out yet.

“This area here by the new interchange is at the highest point,” Lundell said. “You’d like your development to start at the south end and incrementally go up otherwise you’re going to extend a sewer all the way to the top end without anybody else tapping in the middle, which is very expensive.”

Lundell said that hurdle wouldn’t necessarily stop the city from allowing a project up near the interchange, adding there might be a possibility if asking North Liberty to temporarily extend its utilities so “you never know,” Lundell said.

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