Your Village: What’s happening with the empty lot at the corner of College and Van Buren?

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The empty lot at the corner of College and Van Buren Sts. — photo by Paul Brennan

“What are the plans for the lot at the corner of College and Van Buren?” — Nic from Iowa City, via email.

The answer probably won’t surprise anyone in Iowa City: apartments. It’s even less of a surprise when you learn the person who filed the site plan with the city for the currently empty lot is Joe Clark.

The Clark family owns Apts. Downtown, Inc., which operates as both Apts Downtown and Apartments Near Campus. It’s Iowa City’s largest landlord company.

On Nov. 17, the city approved Clark’s site plan for the lot. A site plan is the first step in getting a development approved, Iowa City Senior Housing Inspector Stan Laverman told Little Village. “This is just the initial placeholder for the site development standards,” Laverman explained.

“They’ve also applied for a building permit for a foundation for an 18-unit multi-family [building],” Laverman said. “You can apply for a foundation, but it doesn’t guarantee that you can build the building there. That’s a risk the developer takes.”

Little Village reached out to another member of the Clark family — Bryan — to ask about plans for the corner lot, but has not received a reply. Bryan is listed in documents filed with the Iowa Secretary of State’s office as the business manager of Apt. Downtown, Inc., as well as the business manager and contact person for 505-507 College, LLC, the Clark-owned business entity that is listed as the official owner of the lot.

The lot was the Iowa City location of the Abbe Mental Health Center for approximately four decades. In June 2015, the four parcels that make up the corner lot were sold to 505-507 College, LLC, and the following January, Abbe relocated to its current site on Arthur Street.

It’s not possible to tell from the documents filed with city what the timeline for developing the lot is.

“They have not submitted building plans for the final project,” Laverman said.

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