City prepares for Riverfront Crossings Park proposals

Riverfront Crossings District
Developers have until Jan. 19 to submit proposals for a park in the new Riverfront Crossings District. — via the City of Iowa City

Iowa City’s Riverfront Crossings Park project continues to move towards fruition.

On Dec. 18, city officials held a pre-submittal meeting for consultants who plan to submit bids in response to its Request for Proposals for Design and Engineering Services for the park. According to Senior Civil Engineer Ben Clark, a half-dozen firms from across the Midwest, including local ones, gathered to see an overview of the project, do a site walkthrough, read through the RFP and ask questions.

“Basically, consultants are going to be submitting their qualifications and we’re going to select a consultant who will design the park,” Clark said. “The overall purpose [of the meeting] was to get good submittals.” The deadline for proposals is Jan. 19.

The site of the planned Riverfront Crossings Park is the former North Wastewater Treatment Plant. The plant was built in 1935, irrevocably damaged in the 2008 flood and officially decommissioned in 2014. Despite the efforts of activist group Ecopolis, which included City Council member Rockne Cole, to preserve the plant that sat in the center of the park’s plan, it was demolished earlier this year. Plans moved ahead for the redevelopment project that foresees a combination park and wetland reclamation area.

Riverside Crossings Park will offer biking and walking trails, overlooks, access to the Iowa River for boating and fishing, wildlife viewing areas, gardens, green space, recreational facilities and more. But it’s also intended to be a floodplain park, providing natural barrier protection for nearby neighborhoods in anticipation of floods that are expected to increase in number and severity in coming years.

According to the RFP, the project’s stated goals are to “encourage pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use redevelopment, create a resilient riverfront park system, enhance Ralston Creek to become a community asset, develop a multi-modal transportation network, promote sustainable design practices within the district [and] celebrate Iowa City as a center for art and culture.”

The firm whose proposal is selected will work off the project’s master plan to create a detailed, implementable vision of the park. It will also be responsible for other elements of the project’s initial development, including construction drawings and procuring necessary permits.

The park is part of the city’s plan for Riverfront Crossings, a neighborhood south of downtown that would incorporate housing, retail space and restaurants, as well as a planned University of Iowa recital hall and music building. The Riverfront Crossings District Master Plan was adopted by the City Council in 2013 and plans for the park were announced last February.

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