Monday, May 25, 2015

TIFs -- Chauncey -- For the Record

May 25, 2015

Replacing Council Members Only Solution
TIF is intended to be used as incentive to encourage development of projects that benefit the community but for which the return carries sufficient risk to discourage investment. Construction of luxury housing, a hotel and entertainment venues between an affluent neighborhood and a thriving downtown with a steady stream of visitors is not a risky proposition.
-- Lauren Lyon (from op ed column below)
Since the beginning of this blog ten years ago, TIFs (tax breaks and gifts of taxpayers' money from the Iowa City City Council to wealthy developers) have been the subject of over 40 blog essays. "TIFs: Links to Blog Essays." They have itemized and illustrated over a dozen categories of reasons why TIFs are a bad idea -- any one of which should be reason enough to stop using them. No pro-TIF public official has ever taken up my challenge to demonstrate why none of those categories is a reasonable basis for concern. Accordingly, there is no reason why this blog essay should repeat those arguments once again.

Why? Because I ultimately came to the conclusion that, while this seemed to be an instance in which the pen (or a computer keyboard) is not mightier than the sword, it might be one in which the ballot box might prove mightier than the sword of special interest. A City Council election is coming up this fall. Replacing some of the "socialism for the rich and free private enterprise for the poor" councilors may be a solution, if only the public could become informed and aroused. [Photo credit: Iowa City Press-Citizen.]

A current (2015) case of this abuse, which appears to be sliding down the Council's greased skids as I write, involves a project called "The Chauncey." Although I am not going to describe and analyze it here, it does seem to me important enough to warrant reproducing, "For the Record," some of the current local writing on the subject.

N.J., May 25, 2015


Lauren Lyon, "Church rezoning objects to Chauncey rezoning," April 27, 2015

Henry Madden, "Council Should Issue New RFP for College/Gilbert Site," April 30, 2015

Jon Fogarty, "Financial errors in Chauncey plan, options being ignored," May 20, 2015

Mary Gravitt, "Residents should turn out for Chauncey hearing," May 19, 2015


Marc Moen, Steve Rohrbach and Mike Hahn, "Setting facts straight on Chauncey development," May 9, 2015 [a response to Henry Madden, above]

Wallace and Karen Chappell, "Council should approve Chauncey," May 19, 2015

Church rezoning objects to Chauncey rezoning

Lauren Lyon

Iowa City Press-Citizen, April 28, 2015 [online 12:28 p.m. CDT April 27, 2015]

On Thursday, Trinity Episcopal Church filed a formal objection to the city of Iowa City’s application for unlimited density zoning for the proposed location of the controversial Chauncey tower project.

The controversy over rezoning the land at the corner of College and Gilbert streets could be cast as a David and Goliath story, or a confrontation between naïve idealism and worldly sophistication. Neither of those characterizations is correct.

For the past 18 months, Trinity Episcopal Church has pointed toward the shortage of parking likely to result from the construction of the Chauncey on that corner, the project for which the proposed zoning change will make way. Parking restrictions will have a direct impact on parishioners’ and guests’ ability to participate in church activities seven days a week. Trinity has also noted the obstruction of light to the church building that the 15-story Chauncey will cause. Comments by commissioners at the Zoning and Planning Commission meeting April 16 suggested that they might finally be taking seriously the issue of parking related to the unlimited density that the change to CB-10 will allow.

Apart from parking and the aesthetic impact on the church building, Trinity parishioners have consistently raised important issues related to the use of public funds and city owned land. The $14.2 million in incentives to be provided to the Moen Group for construction of the Chauncey includes $12.1 million in tax increment financing. TIF is intended to be used as incentive to encourage development of projects that benefit the community but for which the return carries sufficient risk to discourage investment. Construction of luxury housing, a hotel and entertainment venues between an affluent neighborhood and a thriving downtown with a steady stream of visitors is not a risky proposition.

Inclusion of affordable housing in a project is an element of qualification for TIF. The city of Iowa City proposes to spend $1 million in HUD funds to purchase five units in the Chauncey to be designated for low-income residents. This proposal distorts the meaning of affordable housing in a cynical manner to justify what is already a questionable use of public funds. The project also incorporates a purchase of land by the developer from the City for $2.1 million, the proceeds of which will be contributed by the city to the project’s financing.

It was noted at the April 16 meeting that the city elected not use the Good Neighbor Program protocol, which is “strongly encouraged in most instances” by its own department of Planning and Community Development. The program brochure, which is posted on the city’s website encourages “proactive dialogue between property owners, developers and neighbors that may help identify and resolve issues.” It goes on to say “answering neighbors’ questions and hearing their concerns or suggestions may provide the opportunity to developers/applicants to address concerns or objections before the project is reviewed in a public forum.”

To have the skill, resources and political influence to make one’s mark on the built environment of a city is an extraordinary form of power. It can change the character of entire neighborhoods and shape their future for decades, if not centuries. Zoning regulations provide an essential counterweight to that power by allowing the citizens and organizations within affected communities to ask questions, pose challenges and offer alternatives.

Trinity Episcopal Church has never objected to the commercial development of the property in question. The congregation welcomes it and remains open and willing to take part in the process of discussion and decision-making about the specific nature of that development. The city and its agencies have not entered fully into that process.

The Rev. Lauren Lyon is rector at Trinity Episcopal Church, 320 E. College St. in Iowa City. She can be reached at


Council should issue new RFP for College/Gilbert site

Henry Madden

Iowa City Press-Citizen, April 30, 2015

In contrast to the Press-Citizen's editorial, "Council should approve Chauncey" (April 25), I would like to state many reasons why the council should not approve the Chauncey and should restart the process for designing a building for that College and Gilbert site and this time do it above board.

1. The council misled the public from the beginning. The city's Comprehensive Plan restricted the building height to 75 feet. Some on the council indicated to developer Marc Moen that they wanted a very tall building and calculated that they could easily change the zoning restrictions. If they had been fair to all developers, they would have stated in their request for proposal that they preferred 15 to 20 stories.

2. The city stated in the RFP that it favored workforce housing. This led many developers to incorporate as many affordable units as possible to receive the contract. One proposal designed 153 workforce units while Moen's design listed 13. Was there prior information passed to Moen that this was not important?

3. The council indicated its pre-established selection of Moen's Chauncey when councilor Susan Mims stated at the January 2013 council meeting, "I see no reason for further discussion. I was for the Chauncey from the beginning."

4. Upon reviewing the comparative matrix developed by the city's consultant, it becomes clear that the Chauncey was not the most financially advantageous choice for the city. By "financially advantageous," I mean the net present value of the TIF money invested by the city and the tax payback the city would receive. These numbers should have been exposed to the citizens but were not mentioned because (former) councilor Connie Champion spoke up after Mims with, "Yes, I agree. Let's not get into a numbers game."

5. The City Council appealed to the Planning and Zoning Commission for a change to the Riverfront Crossings Master Plan to allow the addition of three blocks, including the block where the Chauncey would be located, to allow the Chauncey but was denied. It voted to override the P&Z denial but, by law, the vote required a super-majority and two councilors voted no. It then appealed to P&Z for a spot zoning change to the College/Gilbert site, which would negate the very reason for the transitional area, which the city's Comprehensive Plan incorporated. The P&Z again refused to allow the change.

6. Immediately after the zoning rejection, two members of the P&Z commission, volunteer citizens, were denied reappointment. These were competent long-term members.

7. In obvious ignorance of Federal Aviation Administration rules, the council learned that 20 stories would violate the agency's rules. Why didn't the city investigate, as part of their matrix, the present regulations before voting — an indication of poor planning.

8. In an age of environmental concern, one would think that our council should be concerned with energy efficiency. One developer submitted a design with platinum LEED certification and a "net zero" energy use. We could have had one of the first "net zero" buildings in America and have had national publicity.

9. Many citizens — including Trinity Church, North Side and College Green neighborhood residents, and New Pioneer Co-op members — objected to the high-rise building and the change of the zoning, but were ignored.

10. Just several months ago, the City Council, for some reason, realized that Chauncey did not have any workforce housing so it agreed to buy five units for $1 million — $200,000 per unit. Is that affordable workforce housing?

I believe the only way to correct this elite, unfair, confused and ill-conceived project is to start all over and tell prospective developers specifically what the people of Iowa City want.

Henry Madden is an Iowa City resident.


Financial errors in Chauncey plan, options being ignored

Jon Fogarty

Iowa City Press-Citizen, May 20, 2015, p. A13 [online 2:56 p.m. CDT May 19, 2015]

Recently, The Chauncey developers wrote an opinion piece outlining the financial benefits for the project. However, don’t listen to what they say, look at what their numbers show. The city is about to take a giant bet on a financially risky project that will supplant growth, has polarized the community, placed a community of faith under stress, and most troubling, left those needing workforce housing out in the cold. Our city deserves and can do better.

This project is a bad deal for taxpayers. The approved TIF totals $14.1 million on a total budget of $49 million. That amount includes a $2.1 million refund of the purchase price of the land. For that amount of public assistance, the city could forgo the loan, take 30 percent equity in the building and get 70 units that can be sold as means-tested workforce housing for middle class families.

Instead, the city will borrow that money, loan it to the Moen Group and let them pay it back in 20 to 25 years out of their property taxes. This process robs the city, county and the school district of revenue from this property and turns what would otherwise be property taxes it into equity for the Moen Group. If this project cannot fully obtain private sector financing, then it is fiscally bankrupt by design.

Furthermore, this project makes a mockery of the request for proposals requirement for workforce housing. At present, the current plan seems to be using $1 million in HUD funds to buy five units in the building for such housing. To me and most people I talk to, this fails the spirit and letter of the original RFP and goes into the territory of moral bankruptcy. Multiple proposals represented a real opportunity to enhance work force housing options for working families in our downtown.

For example, George Sherman Associates, proposed a 13-story building that specified 132 workforce housing units. However, Councilor Connie Champion dismissed those units as “just student housing” and Councilor Susan Mims echoed that remark. Ryan, a 75-year-old firm having constructed hundreds of buildings across the U.S., presented a five-story building containing 60 workforce housing units. This building would have satisfied the community’s desire for a legitimate transition zone between downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods as well as Trinity Episcopal Church.

In short, this project was not chosen based on merit, the fiscal numbers or its alignment with the RFP. Watching the deliberations, Jim Throgmorton seems to be the only councilor who read the nine pages of data supplied by city planning staff since he asked the only question referencing the data. If anything, it appears to have been chosen based on personal relationships, the lowest level of RFP satisfaction and the greatest amount of public assistance.

These are just two flaws of The Chauncey. We could describe many more, but those problems alone are enough to reject this project. There are many other options for the corner of College and Gilbert that are being ignored.

It’s time to admit that many mistakes are being made and that we need to start over. This is a highly desirable site, located between our downtown and our historic neighborhoods. There is no need to subsidize development with public money and with city ownership of all but the MidAmerican electrical substation, the city can dictate every aspect of development. By listening to concerns, opening up the process and setting forth clear guidelines that will be followed, our community can get a project that our entire city can support.

Jon Fogarty is co-chair of Iowa Coalition Against the Shadow. He lives in Iowa City.


Residents should turn out for Chauncey hearing

Mary Gravitt

Iowa City Press-Citizen, May 19, 2015, p. A7 [online 2:04 p.m. CDT May 18, 2015]

Iowa City Council scheduled May 19 for the Chauncey rezoning. I urge the community to turn out in force with their voter registration card in hand, and expect the following:

•The agenda will be purposely overloaded.

•Members of council will appear to be listening, but only three actually are.

•Do not plead on moral ground — politicians have no morals.

•Corruption is the norm in Third World contexts and content such as skyscrapers, so beware of done deals, like pipe being already shipped.

•If the meeting starts at 7 p.m. and will end at 11 p.m. so as to wear out those wanting to testify.

•Your charter right to five minutes to speak will be cut down to three, so practice you delivery.

Finally: At the last U.S. Census, Iowa City residents numbered 68,000; the city council numbers seven; three are up for re-election. The odds are in the peoples’ favor. And this is what democracy looks like Iowa City.

My delivery is this: The Chauncey because of its height will cast a shadow over Gilbert Street, which a main thoroughfare, and cause the street to ice over in winter. I have observed this phenomenon by walking down Linn Street where a single-story building housing a law firm casts its shadow like a groundhog, icing up the adjoined sidewalk. If the shadow of a one-story building can do this to an entire sidewalk, what will 15 stories do to a highway?

Mary Gravitt



Setting facts straight on Chauncey development

Marc Moen, Steve Rohrbach and Mike Hahn

Iowa City Press-Citizen, May 9, 2015, p. A9 [online 12:44 p.m. CDT May 8, 2015]

The Chauncey Development Team welcomes honest, fact-based discussion of the proposed development at the corner of College and Gilbert streets. Facts do matter, however, and we feel compelled to respond to the April 30 opinion by Henry Madden, which is largely innuendo, erroneous information and unfounded claims of inside information from which he concludes the city’s process was not “above board.”

In response, we provide the following factual information:

•Madden erroneously claims the City Council misled the public on the scale of the development it was requesting in the Request For Proposals. In fact, the city’s Aug. 31, 2012, RFP specifically sought developers for “an urban, downtown-density building” and states “it is anticipated CB-10 (Central Business District) zoning will be requested.” (City RFP, pp. 3,11)

•Madden’s suggestion that “prior information” was provided to developer Marc Moen regarding workforce housing has no basis in fact. In fact, the information on workforce housing was provided through the city’s RFP (City RPF, p. 10).

•Madden claims there was a “pre-established” council selection of the Chauncey. In fact, the Chauncey proposal was made known to council only through the submission process established in the city’s RFP. There was no communication with council members before submitting our proposal, and we had no idea which proposal any member of the council might prefer.

•Madden asserts that TIF numbers “should have been exposed to the citizens.” In fact, not only were the numbers made public, they showed that the biggest benefit to the city was from the Chauncey project. The numbers were included in the City Council packet before selection of the preferred developer.

•Madden mistakenly claims the city has engaged in spot zoning. In fact, the Gilbert/College site already is identified as general commercial in the current comprehensive plan (IC2030 Comprehensive Plan). The CB-10 zoning request is consistent with that plan.

•Madden claims that immediately after P&Z voted on the zoning application, two members of the P&Z commission were denied reappointment. In fact, council appointments to P&Z were made before P&Z’s vote on the city’s rezoning request at which time only oneof the commissioners had applied for reappointment.

•Madden incorrectly claims the City Council was ignorant of the Federal Aviation Administration Rules. In fact, the city’s RFP specifically calls out the airport regulations and it was well known to everyone involved that an FAA variance was required, whether 15 or 20 stories. (City RFP, p. 11)

•Madden suggests that council is not concerned with energy efficiency. In fact, the Chauncey’s sustainability was discussed during the selection process and has been the subject of negotiations since Chauncey was selected.

•Contrary to Madden’s claim, concerns voiced by Trinity Church and others about height were not ignored. Chauncey’s reduction to 15 stories was in direct response to these concerns.

•Madden’s suggestion that New Pioneer Co-op was opposed to the height is belied by the fact that New Pioneer Co-op signed letters of intent to occupy the main floor on multiple projects requiring CB-10 zoning, including a 13-story building and an 18-story glass building. Moreover, the Chauncey design team has been respectful of the corner and surrounding properties. Chauncey is only four stories at the College/Gilbert corner (14 feet shorter than would be allowed under CB-5 zoning) with major step backs to the taller section of the building beginning (at level 5 the building steps back 70 feet from Gilbert Street and 102 feet from College Street). This assures that the shadow effect on Trinity Church is no greater than a CB-5 building.

•Workforce housing has been included since the beginning of the Chauncey project and has received careful attention throughout negotiations on the development agreement. Madden’s suggestion to the contrary is simply not true.

•Madden proposes the city discard all the work done in the last 2½ years and start over. This is after the development team has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars, and after city staff, third-party consultants, and City Council have devoted an enormous amount of time to the development of the College/Gilbert site.

Madden’s proposal would have a devastating impact on any developer ever trusting the city on a development project in the future. It would be irresponsible for the city to follow Madden’s advice.

Marc Moen is a member of The Chauncey, L.L.C., the developer on the project; Steve Rohrbach is president of Rohrbach Associates, P.C., the architect of the proposed Chauncey; and Mike Hahn is president of McComas-Lacina Construction, L.C., the general contractor on the proposed Chauncey.


Council should approve Chauncey

Wallace and Karen Chappell

Iowa City Press-Citizen, May 19, 2015, p. A7 [online 2:03 p.m. CDT May 18, 2015]

We urge the City Council of Iowa City to continue its support of the Chauncey, as proposed by the Moen Group, architect Steve Rohrbach and builder Mike Hahn. This team is well known locally for its integrity and for its ability to produce quality results.

Plans for the new building include two intimate movie theaters, the next step in the swift success of Film Scene.

We urge the Council to vote in favor of this ambitious project, one that will enhance and enliven our downtown, which continues to grow as an attractive destination. Under the guidance of Nancy Bird, Nancy Quellhorst and many others, the area is becoming a sought after place to live, work and have fun. The Music Building of the University of Iowa, as well as the incoming UI Museum of Art, are part of an increasingly vibrant downtown. The Chauncey will complement the theaters, galleries, restaurants, shops and residences that are currently flourishing.

We are, indeed, burbling along with entrepreneurial activity. The recent designation of Iowa City as the most successful college town in the country, for populations under 250,000, as well as regular recognition as a major retirement center, are a testament to sustained creative activity: the results can only attract more students to the university and to Kirkwood Community College, as well as new residents, retirees and visitors.

We urge the council to affirm what is happening in our city by approving The Chauncey.

Wallace and Karen Chappell

Iowa City

# # #

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Racism in Our Schools -- and Everywhere Else

May 9, 2015, 1:15 p.m.
I'm a very, . . . lucky guy. I've got a lot going for me: I'm healthy, I'm relatively young, I'm white -- which, thank God for that . . .. That is a huge leg up. Are you kidding me? Oh, God, I love being white. I really do. Seriously, if you're not white, you're missing out. Because [being white] is thoroughly good.

Let me be clear, by the way. I'm not saying that white people are better. I'm saying that being white is clearly better. Who could even argue? If it was an option, I would re-up every year. "Oh, yeah, I'll take 'white' again, absolutely. I've been enjoying that. I'm gonna stick with white, thank you.

-- Louis C.K., "On Being White"

Laughter is one way of dealing with deep pain. Action is another.

While the rest of the nation has been coming to the realization that racism in police-community relations is not limited to one or two cities, the Iowa City Community School District, with the leadership of Kingsley Botchway, is taking action with regard to its schools' endemic challenges of race and racism -- symbolized with the disparity of a faculty that is 4% minority teachers serving a student population that is 35% minority students. [Photo credit: David Scrivner, Iowa City Press-Citizen.]

"While the Iowa City Community School District . . . attempts to diversify its staff and create equitable environments for students, some experts say . . . the district might face barriers in recruiting minorities, making long-term cultural changes in classrooms and funding staff changes." Holly Hines, "Expert: Equity Plan a Postive, Challenging Step; Administrators, Teachers, National Official Discuss Elements of ICCSD Equity Proposal," Iowa City Press-Citizen, May 9, 2015, p. A1.

To get a realistic sense of the potential "barriers" confronting our school district in this mission one needs a realistic understanding of racism in America. Not just racism 50 or 200 years ago, but racism yesterday, still today, and likely tomorrow -- racism everywhere.

As Brave New Films reports:
Thousands of resumes were mailed to employers. They were identical except for the names. Black-sounding names were 50% less likely to be called back.

Black people are charged prices roughly $700 higher than white people when buying [the same] cars.

Multiple studies show black drivers are twice as likely to get pulled over [for the same driving behavior].

Black clients are shown 17.7% fewer houses for sale.

Marijuana use is equal between blacks and whites. Yet black people are 4 times more likely to be arrested.

Black people are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of white people.

Doctors did not inform black patients as often as white ones about an important heart procedure. [And see, Damon Tweedy, "The Case for Black Doctors," New York Times, May 17, 2015, p. SR1.]

White legislators did not respond as frequently to constituents with black sounding names -- in both political parties.

If this isn't racism, what is? Racism isn't over.
"Racism is Real" promo, Brave New Films. [The promo closes with citations to its list of sources for these assertions.]

For some more insight into the depths of what we're dealing with here -- both the causes and the cures -- see, Nicholas Kristof, "Our Biased Brains," New York Times, May 7, 2015, p. A29 (e.g., "In one study, 3-month-old white infants were shown photos of faces of white adults and black adults; they preferred the faces of whites. For 3-month-old black infants living in Africa, it was the reverse.")

(Ironically, Kristof continues, "Researchers find that in contrast to other groups, AfricanAmericans do not have an unconscious bias toward their own. From young children to adults, they are essentially neutral and favor neither whites nor blacks. [Harvard psychology professor Mahzarin] Banaji and other scholars suggest that this is because even young AfricanAmerican children somehow absorb the social construct that white skin is prestigious and that black skin isn’t. In one respect, that is unspeakably sad; in another, it’s a model of unconscious race neutrality.")

Apparently racism is prevalent from the time we are three months old, throughout every institution and aspect of our culture. It may even be embedded in our DNA. Can any Iowa City resident or School Board member deny that it may be involved to at least some degree in our discussions of school boundaries? Can President Obama's hate-filled opponents deny that racism may play at least some teeny-tiny role in their opposition to everything he advocates -- even policies they once proposed? (The Southern Poverty Law Center's annual measure of hate groups in the U.S. indicates that while their number ranged from 131 to 149 during 2001 to 2008, during President Obama's presidency, from 2010 through 2014, the number ranged from 824 to 1360.)

I am about as familiar as a white boy can be with the evil consequences of racism, as a result of spending most of the 1950s in Texas and throughout the South -- with a poll tax designed to further reduce blacks voting, black and white water fountains and restrooms, "No Colored" signs in restaurant and store windows, a lawsuit required to open a law school to blacks, and crosses burned in the yards of the federal judges for whom I worked in their efforts to right these wrongs.

Such experiences helped shaped my reaction as an F.C.C. commissioner upon discovering that the broadcasting industry the Commission was supposed to regulate "in the public interest" was one of, if not the, country's most racist and sexist. I pushed for, and the Commission achieved, increased employment of African-Americans and women in front of the cameras and in broadcast management.

I was made aware of my own color consciousness during the process of writing this. Taking a break to feed fish in a backyard pond, my eye caught the flashing lights of a parked police car. There was no indication that the African-American who had been stopped was being treated with anything other that the utmost civility and respect. And yet, given recent events, my initial wondering and concern for him caused me to question whether I would have been similarly apprehensive had he been white.

There's hope. As Nicholas Kristof reports:
[W]e can resist a predisposition for bias against other groups.

One strategy that works is seeing images of heroic African-Americans; afterward, whites and Asians show less bias, a study found. Likewise, hearing a story in which a black person rescues someone from a white assailant reduces anti-black bias in subsequent testing. It’s not clear how long this effect lasts.

Deep friendships, especially romantic relationships with someone of another race, also seem to mute bias — and that, too, has implications for bringing young people together to forge powerful friendships.

“If you actually have friendships across race lines, you probably have fewer biases,” Banaji says. “These are learned, so they can be unlearned.”
I wish Iowa Law grad Kingsley Botchway good luck in his efforts working with the School District's administrators, faculty, staff and students. But the fact is, every single one of us has a lot of homework we need tending to when it comes to racism throughout America.

# # #

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Football: Enhancing Everyone’s Game Day Experience

Posted April 29, 2015, 6:00 a.m.

Notes: (1) This blog essay reproduces an op ed column by Nicholas Johnson in today's Press-Citizen -- the latest in what have been dozens of prior columns and blog essays regarding football-related issues.
(2) A selection of them is available at, where they are listed chronologically in categories, such as, The College Football Industry, its impact, economics, and future; Football's Ties to Crime; to Gambling; to Alcohol; and the impact of its fans on the Kinnick Stadium Neighborhood.
(3) Newspaper columns don't have footnotes, but for those who may wish they did a narrative discussion of some of the sources can be found following the text of the column. -- N.J., April 29, 2015.

Enhancing Everyone's Experience at Kinnick
Nicholas Johnson
Iowa City Press-Citizen, April 29, 2015, p. A13

During a previous life, the University of Iowa’s athletic director set about enhancing fans’ “game day experience” at Wyoming Cowboys’ football games.

He bar-coded tickets and opened more stadium gates to speed entry. He provided parking lots and shuttle services — with discounts for flying the Cowboys’ flag. He added 75 handicapped parking spaces. He improved restrooms and concession facilities. Solid improvements.

Flash forward to Iowa’s Hawkeyes.

Well below national averages, only 64 percent of Iowa’s season ticket holders are even “likely” to renew. Of those not renewing, 68 percent have concluded that seven opportunities to watch Hawkeyes lose too many games (while fans sit unprotected in Iowa’s weather) is not a sufficient benefit to justify the cost: $790 for a couple’s season tickets — plus their added costs and hassles of attending.

When the fast-food hamburger chains see a decline in sales, they have a five-step program to increase sales. First they add salt. If that’s not enough, they add sugar. Next, cheese. Then two burgers per bun. If none of that works, there’s the nuclear option: bacon in everything. [Added photo (photo source unknown)]

AD Gary Barta is evolving his own multi-step program. When too many of the 70,000-plus seats in Kinnick Stadium were empty, he tried luring fans with a sound system, then a video board — acknowledging both need work. He offered $70 discounts on concessions for those renewing early. [Added photo: Video screens weren't enough to fill these seats. (Photo source unknown.)]

What bacon is for McDonald’s, alcohol is for Hawkeye football, a liquid lariat from Laramie for roping and corralling fans into Kinnick. Once praised for accommodating the handicapped with more parking, he has now grasped the revelation from Ogden Nash’s two-line poem that “Candy is dandy/but liquor is quicker.” He’s extended the hours for tailgate drinking and booked two night games — his way of enhancing “the game day experience.”

That is, enhancing fans’ memories of the party while forgetting the game. The theory? The more they drink, the more they party. The more they party, the more they forget what they were doing before they passed out. The more they forget the losses, the more they renew season tickets. [Photo credit: Nicholas Johnson]

Of course, the most effective food and football solutions, customer satisfaction and enhanced game days? Better beef in hamburgers, and winning seasons for the Hawkeyes.

So how to win? The problem is not with the athletic director, coaching staff and athletes. They’re entitled to our sympathy. The problems with big-money college football are systemic.

College football needs to take some lessons from the National Football League for which they are the farm teams.

For starters, college ball, like the NFL, needs to be split off from academic institutions. Trust me; it would make it easier for everyone — university presidents, faculty, staff, students, coaches, athletes, sports writers, broadcasters, advertisers, investors, sports gamblers and fans.

Examples? Barta notes that stadium beer sales "potentially could be a big revenue stream," but that’s not now possible. Also, because of the university affiliation, the commercial ties between the football program and Riverside gambling casino are both a violation of the spirit of NCAA regulations and an academic embarrassment. [Photo credit: Nicholas Johnson]

Second, the teams need to recognize that, like the NFL, college ball is a single industry in which every team’s income would increase if talent were more equally distributed. They need a draft, in which teams with the poorest records get the best new players.

Third, the Iowa Hawkeyes play in Iowa weather. Kinnick, wedged between a railroad track, an expanding hospital and residential neighborhoods, was great in the 1920s. Today? Not so much. The team needs a domed stadium, with plenty of parking, preferably centrally located among eastern Iowa’s population centers.

More alcohol (Barta’s “fun factor”) impacts Kinnick’s neighbors. Parachuting 60,000 to 70,000 uninvited visitors into a neighborhood designed for 250 people, give or take, shifts football’s costs to the neighbors. Students urinating in residents’ yards, breaking glass beer bottles into shards, throwing trash under bushes isn’t “Iowa nice.” [Photo credits: Nicholas Johnson]

These three proposals could truly enhance everyone’s game day experience.
Nicholas Johnson, a former sports law professor, is a fan of Iowa women’s basketball, and offers links to more such commentary at http://FromDC2Iowa/2015/04/football.html.

Narrative Footnotes

"Improvements Announced to Enhance Fan Experience at War Memorial Stadium; New location of Pepsi's Cowboy Tailgate Park among changes," Wyoming Official Athletics Site, Aug. 18, 2004 (description of Barta's improvements; note that the Wyoming "Tailgate Park" is named for a soft drink); "UW Athletics Director Gary Barta Announces First Interstate Bank Gift; Funds go toward the Strategic Plan for Intercollegiate Athletics,", Wyoming Official Athletics Site, June 17, 2005 (reference to efforts to "enhance the fan experience" and the improved restroom and concession facilities). And see, "Gary Barta Profile," Wyoming Official Athletics Site.

"Hawkeyes Offer Bonus to Fans Who Renew Season Tickets," Quad City Times,, Feb. 16, 2015, provides the stats regarding attendance, season ticket sales, forecasts of season ticket renewals, and makes reference to the "concessions and souvenir discount opportunities." ("Of Iowa fans who indicated they were undecided or unlikely to renew, 68 percent indicated a price compared to value and benefits of being a season ticket holder was a factor in their uncertainty and far outweighed other concerns.") And see, "Marc Morehouse, "17 Years of Trust," The Gazette, May 20, 2015, pp. B1, B4 ("Iowa has sold around 30,000 season tickets for the 2015 season. That's about 7,000 below last season's 37,823, which was the lowest since 2009. Iowa . . . recorded just one sellout (Iowa State) . . . in the last two seasons.")

The details of the extended drinking hours are explained in "UI to Lengthen Postgame Tailgate Time; Extra Hour Added to Postgame Opportunity for 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Start Times,", Hawkeye Football, April 17, 2015 (making reference to the "fun factor" and "game-day experience": "We know the opportunity to enjoy pregame and postgame time with friends and family is an important part of the game-day experience for many of our fans. . . ." said Barta said in an official statement released by the UI on Friday. "The `fun factor' surrounding Hawkeye football is an important focus of ours as we plan for 2015").

AD Barta's saying of stadium beer sales, "it potentially could be a big revenue stream" is found in a video from July 25, 2014, posted on the Press-Citizen's Web site. In that video he asserts that the idea has never even been discussed at either Big Ten meetings or at the University of Iowa.

There are a number of NCAA statements regarding gambling. Here is a sample: "The NCAA opposes all forms of gambling — legal and illegal — on college sports and specifically prohibits coaches, administrators and student-athletes from gambling on any sports event or providing information to anyone gambling on sports. Sports gambling threatens the well-being of student-athletes and the integrity of the game. The NCAA works to preserve sportsmanship and to provide every student-athlete the opportunity to win fairly." "Gambling on College Sports: What is the NCAA policy on gambling on sports?" This page has much more regarding the NCAA's objections to gambling and discussion of the issues, and is a good place to start on this subject.

Chad Leistikow, "Barta's Goal Is an Improved Kinnick: The Athletic Director Wants Great Fan Experience," Des Moines Register, April 20, 2015, p. C1 ("Barta's goal in all of it is to improve the fans' gameday experience"; "Barta spoke about wanting to increase the fun while continuing to stand against past 'deep-seated alcohol abuse'"; reference to "concession vouchers"; reference to "the video board" and "gripes about the new sound system"; "A dip [in attendance] is expected this year . . . -- there's no Iowa State, Wisconsin or Nebraska on the schedule to pad the numbers.") And see, "Efe Ayanruoh, "UI to Extend Tailgaiting: The University of Iowa Extended Its Tailgating Hours Starting This Fall, Depending on the Start Time of a Home Football Game," The Daily Iowan, April 20, 2015, p. 1.

Comments Entered on Press-Citizen Online Publication of Column

Rudolf Schmidt - University of Iowa
Nick's right. On the other hand, building a new domed stadium would probably cost a billion dollars. That's a lot of beer to sell. Apr 29, 2015 8:02am

Nicholas Johnson
For an "enhanced" version of this column, complete with illustrative photos and supporting documentation, see "Football: Enhancing Everyone's Game Day Experience,"

For a catagorized list/index of some 40 prior blog essays on football-related issues, see "Football," Apr 29, 2015 10:18am

Nicholas Johnson
Thankfully, most of the feedback I'm receiving on this column suggests that those readers (like Rudolf Schmidt) have grasped that my three proposals are not intended to be real and practical suggestions at this point in college football's evolution -- for a wide variety of reasons I won't bother to list here.

As painful as it is to try to explain humor, for the others I will try. While those proposals have within them an occasional sprinkling of facts/truth they are primarily designed to illustrate (by way of these alternatives) some of the problems (that many in and out of this industry acknowledge) with the present system. And yes, I do know that many college football players do benefit from their opportunity for a college education. Apr 29, 2015 10:28am

Joseph Dobrian - Principal and Founder at Dobrian, Frances, Bowie & Long
Night games make me less inclined, not more, to renew my season tickets. Night football is for high schools, on Friday. I hate night games at Kinnick with the burning heat of a thousand artificial suns. 23 hrs [noted May 1, 2015, 8:05am]

# # #

Saturday, April 25, 2015


ver.1, April 25, 2015; ver. 1.1 April 30, 2015

FromDC2Iowa: Football-Related Blog Essays

Note: Entries are listed chronologically within categories. This blog entry index is a work in progress that may have additional entries in future versions.

"The College Football Industry (impact, economics, future)"
"Football's Ties to Crime"
"Football's Ties to Gambling"
"Football's Ties to Alcohol"
"Impact of Fans on Stadium Neighborhood"
# # #

The College Football Industry (impact, economics, future)

"UI Held Hostage-Day 378 - Feb. 3 - Athletics," Feb. 3, 2007 (Sen. Grassley questions whether "contributions" to football programs should be tax deductions; includes N.J. Press-Citizen column on topic, "It's Sure Cheaper Than a Rain Forest," Feb. 3, 2007)

"UI Held Hostage Day 429 - March 26," March 26, 2007

"Earthpark's Week-Long Wake," Nov. 26, 2007 (search for "Hawkeye Football's Good News")

"Floods and Football," June 17, 2008

"Forbes, Mural, Poverty and 7 Presidential Candidates," Aug. 17, 2008 (Forbes magazine ranks Hawkeye football coach nation's "most overpaid coach," based on salary and won-lost record)

"Corporatizing the University of Iowa," Nov. 17, 2009

"The $100 Million Hawkeyes' Football Team; Hawks: "How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Dollars," Aug. 28, 2010

"Coach Ferentz Provides Classy Variety of Wins; Winning Isn't Everything," Nov. 22, 2010

"Fandom; Super Bowl, Super Mystery," Jan. 30, 2011

"Super Boosters' Super Bowl; Campions' Wins Can Be Taxpayers' Losses; Lessons for Iowa," Feb. 8, 2011

"Crisis Communications 101; There Are Three Steps," Feb. 14, 2011

"Peak Oil, Peak Football; $80,000 for the Seat; $3750/Year to Sit In It," Jan. 21, 2012

"What America Most Highly Values; In 23 of 50 States It's Football Coaches," Aug. 16, 2013

"Curing a Cancer on the Academy," Aug. 20, 2014

"NFL: Just Another Rigged TV Show," Jan. 2, 2015

"Football: Enhancing Everyone's Game Day Experience," April 29, 2015

Football's Ties to Crime (and see, "CollegeFootball's Ties to Gambling", below)

"UI's Good News, Bad News," Dec. 31, 2007 (includes "UI Football Crime Update")

"UI, Sexual Assaults and Secrecy," Jan. 5, 2008

"Humoring the Hawkeyes," March 3, 2008 (jokes about Hawkeye felons)

"UI Sexual Assault Update," July 19, 2008

"Alcohol Update," Sept. 6, 2008 (armed robbery, bottom of essay)

"Extra: Stolar Report," Sept. 18, 2008 (sexual assault case)

"Rational Responses to Stolar and Global Finance," Sept. 20, 2008

"Cleaning Up After the Party," Sept. 26, 2008 (sexual assault case)

"Hawkeye Football Players' Criminal Records; We're Number Two! We're Number Two!" March 3, 2011

"Felons as Student Athletes; Felons on the Field; From District Court to Basketball Court; Do Hawkeyes Check Criminal Records Before Awarding Scholarships? March 27, 2011

"College Football Scandals Larger Lessons; Football's Privileged Tip of Abuses by Powerful," Nov. 8, 2011

Football's Ties to Gambling

"UI Football Promoting Gambling?" Sept. 16, 2006

"Riverside Gambling Casino's Future," Oct. 12, 2006

"Riverside Gambling Casino's Future II," Nov. 13, 2006 (description of "casino-football program partnership")

"UI Held Hostage Day 439 - NCAA Criticizes Gambling Tie," April 5, 2007

"Does Herky Have a Gambling Problem? NCAA vs. Hawkeyes," Jan. 25, 2012

Football's Ties to Alcohol (and see, "Impact of Fans on Stadium Neighborhood," below)

"Alcohol Update," Sept. 6, 2008

"Drunken Fights and Digital Photos," April 13, 2009

"A Busch in the Hand is Worth . . . Who Knows? They Won't Tell Us," June 16, 2012

"'We're # 2!' . . . in Campus Drunks; Coach: Players Should Drink in Dorms, Not Downtown," Aug. 21, 2012

"UI Administrators 'Shocked' By School's Beer Ads; Who Could Have Guessed?" Aug. 30, 2012

Impact of Fans on Stadium Neighborhood

"Hawkeye Football's Externalities," Sept. 9, 2007

"Serious Reflections on 'Football's Externalities,'" Sept. 13, 2007

"Externalities: Hawkeyes' Football, Obama's Safety," Sept. 21, 2009

"A Neighborly Request," Oct. 14, 2009

"Glass-Steagall, Happy Valley and The Dark Knight: Institutions, Conflicts of Interest, and Remedies," July 24, 2012

"Football Trash Talk; Iowa City: Where Great Minds Drink Alike," Sept. 12, 2012

"Anheuser-Busch, UI & Hawks a Win-Win-Win; Advertising Pays," Sept. 17, 2012

"Clean Streets and Creative Consumption," Sept. 30, 2012 (includes, "Alcohol: Friend or Enema? At last, Less Drinking")

"'GO, HAWKS!' -- Just Not in My Yard; Homecoming's Public Urination," Oct. 5, 2013

# # #

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

A Lawyer and a Computer Geek Walk Into Disbar

April 7, 2015, 11:45 a.m.

Based on a Computer-Savvy Lawyer Friend's Actual Experience

I was getting my ducks in a row for a meeting in forty minutes when I got a call out of the blue from Jerry. “Do you have time?”

“Not really. I’ve got a meeting in forty minutes and . . .”

“I’ve got court in an hour," he interrupted. "I have fifteen minutes, tops, to get this finished.”

I grimaced. People always bother me at the worst times for their emergencies. “Fine. Interest me.”

“Short version: the judge issued a discovery order. We have to come up with, and I quote, ‘a computer-readable set of search terms which may be automatically applied to discover relevant data.’ The problem is it’s all relevant. The judge is going to approve this set of search terms and order the other side to cough up the results. So I need a set of terms that will match everything, literally everything, and say that everything’s relevant.”

“Right. And this isn’t abuse of process because . . .?”

“Because the judge is the one who’s going to be approving my recommendation.”



“The search term you want. Caret-dot-plus-dollar. ^.+$. It’s a Perl regular expression. Computer-readable and matches everything. Nice and clear, nothing’s hidden from anyone.”

“No, man, that’s too easy. The other side will take one look at it and know something’s up. It has to look like it’s really fastidious, but it has to really match everything.”

I let out a sigh and started typing up a block of code. I wasn’t going to complicate things by hand when computers can complicate things far better than any human being. While I was typing out the instructions I kept talking with Jerry. “So you’re asking me to cooperate with you in an abuse of process.” [Photo credit: Krasner Law Offices -- in no way related to this story.]

“Not if the judge looks at it, agrees to it, and opposing counsel looks over it, their eyes glaze over, and they agree to it because clearly something so complicated can’t be objected to.”

“You’re a jerk, Jerry.”

“Oh, stop the moralizing. The entire process is bullshit. All I want to do is keep my job and maybe, maybe, hold on to the hope that someday I’ll make partner. That only happens if you get things done.”

“By abusing process.”

“You keep harping on that.”

“Because when the ethics committee hauls you in on it, I want to be able to tell them I warned you.”

“Work product. Confidentiality. Stuff like that.”

“I’m not your employee, privilege doesn’t apply, and you should know that already.”

“Jesus, you’re a downer.”

“Just saying.”

“So, uh — how long will it take? I’m running out of time here, man.”

I copied-and-pasted the output of the program I wrote into an email window and hit SEND. “Just sent it to you.”

“So after all that abusing-process stuff you’re going to cooperate?”

“Cooperated. Past-tense. If you want to call it that, then yeah.”


“Because I want to see if you’re stupid enough to submit to a judge a piece of code you don’t understand, haven’t vetted, and have no idea what it really does. For all you know I gave you something that prints out HIS HONOR WEARS HIS MOTHER’S CLOTHES. Should make your next court appearance real exciting, though, not knowing what’s going to happen to you, right?”

"You wouldn’t do that.”

“Yeah, well. It’s differences of opinion that make horse races interesting.”

“Jesus, Bill, I . . .”

I hung up on him.

I have no idea whether he submitted my code to the judge.

And he has no idea whether I was kidding.

# # #

Friday, March 27, 2015

Tonight, Tomorrow Last Chance for 'Troll Music'

March 27, 2015, 9:00 a.m.

Plenty to Enjoy About "Troll Music"
Nicholas Johnson
Iowa City Press-Citizen
March 27, 2015, p. A7

Don’t miss “Troll Music”! The last performances are Friday and Saturday. (Details at Combined Efforts Theatre.)

Combined Efforts Theatre, an Iowa City gem, is Iowa’s only theater group that deliberately includes young and old performers and volunteers with and without disabilities. The plays are quality, original works by the group’s founder, award-winning playwright Janet Schlapkohl.

This one is about old friends meeting after years apart, secrets, new loves, memories both pleasant and painful, and the magic of delightful forest creatures — plus former burlesque performers, two out-of-work musicians and a mysterious child. The acting, directing by Elijah Jones, dancing gaggle of Nisse (look it up), and the Jazz Rascals make it a delightful evening for all.

But I am a New Orleans Dixieland jazz fan, with a reputation as a totally incompetent trombone beginner and a fading dream. So I have to admit that the highlight for me was listening to the almost-continuous “Riverbank Jazz Band” performance — a local group that had never played together before and assembled just for this show. (Audience dancing is not only permitted, it is encouraged — though not required.) They are as good as anything I ever heard in New Orleans over a half-century ago. Their names may be familiar to you: Ira and Katie Greenstein, Chris Clark, Jim Hall, Steve Norris and Tim Schulte

They alone are worth far more than the incredibly reasonable ticket price.

Nicholas Johnson

Iowa City

# # #

Monday, March 09, 2015

But Seriously Folks . . . Preservation Policy

March 9, 2014, 1:15 p.m.

Iowa City Unitarian Church interior at time of 1907/08 construction. [Photo credit: Iowa State Historical Society.]


The Case for Satire
The Iowa City Unitarian Church Saga
Appendix: Related Local News and Opinion

The Case for Satire

The previous blog essay was intended to be lighthearted satire about a serious subject: How can the world in general, and Iowa City in particular, best go about establishing and following procedures for selecting which old structures will, and will not, be preserved, and resolving the land and building valuations issues accompanying such decisions?

I thought with a title like, “Will UI Demolish Pentacrest Buildings?” above a picture of the campus, the style of writing thereafter, and the self-deprecating humor, that it would be obvious that I was not serious about either the demolition of Old Capitol or how the Unitarian Society was handling the demolition of its own church. This is, after all, a personal blog.

Most of those who gave me feedback enjoyed it in that spirit. However, one who turned out to be a major player in this real-life Unitarian drama, and who said he spoke for others, posted a couple comments at the bottom of that blog indicating that my fans’ reaction was not universal.

Apparently, one person's satire can become another person's scurrilous sacrilege. The experience has given me a little more sympathy for UI sculptor Serhat Tanyolacar. "Threats and Sensibilities: Presidents Kim, Lynton and Mason,” December 22, 2014. Although I’m relieved to learn that there were also those who thought Jonathan Swift serious when he proposed to cure poverty by eating the children of the poor.

Regular readers of my blog saw that this latest essay was similar in spirit to a number of others that preceded it. For example, I once took on some people's serious proposal to fund the University of Iowa with proceeds from the sale of its Jackson Pollock painting, "Funding Iowa by Selling Assets; Legislators Selling Pollock Thinking Too Small,” February 17, 2011. My response was that the UI should take up Larry Flynt’s offer of $100 million for naming rights (“The Hustler Magazine University of Iowa”); sell all of Iowa’s topsoil to Ted Turner, who presumably wanted to use it to cover the proportion of the American West that he owned; or sell and transport Old Capitol, stone by stone, to a Las Vegas casino owner who had requested it be recreated as a centerpiece of his new Las Vegas casino complex.

What the American media has both created and then responded to (by further dumbing down its content) is the diminishing number of readers, listeners, and viewers willing to spend time, let alone money, informing themselves with serious presentations of public policy issues.

In "Three Legged Calves, Wolves, Sheep and Democracy’s Media," December 1, 2014, I suggest it has become so bad that the very best commentary on public policy issues is now coming from former stand-up comic and “Daily Show” member, John Oliver ("Last Week Tonight"). There are links to five sample videos of his presentations from the earlier "Three Legged Calves" blog essay. Click to watch some of them and see if you don’t agree.

I suffer no illusions that I am the next John Oliver. He is, first of all, an entertainer -– and commercially very successful. I am neither. He’s simply chosen to make the effort to also offer his audience some information and analyses they need to hear if our democracy is to survive. I just try on occasion to use similar approaches -– not always successfully -– to stimulate local, state, or national discussion.

Like other writers, I also find it useful when writing about general policy questions to tell the story around individual, specific examples, cases or incidents rather than limiting myself to dead-level abstracting with philosophical generalizations. In this case, that involved writing about preservation policy in the context of the Iowa City Unitarian Society’s frustrating struggle in trying to create what it believed were necessary alterations of its physical plant.

The Iowa City Unitarian Church Saga

That any church’s congregation should have to find itself applying for permission to demolish its own century-old church, and engaging in a fight against a National Historic Register designation of its building, is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.

For reasons explained in the prior blog essay, I don’t know the details of what the congregation went through. Though a Society member, I did not participate in its information gathering and deliberations. I am not an activist on these issues, nor am I a member of any group, whether developers or preservationists. I’m just a writer willing, for purposes of this blog essay, to accept the congregation majority’s assertions.

They believed their physical plant was inadequate for a significant variety of reasons, among them size and lack of wheelchair accessibility. Renovation, or an addition, were the first choices, but proved not to be cost-effective, given what they’d get for their money -– as is often the case with buildings this age. An alternative location was explored -– an option used by other local churches. Being a small congregation (compared to today’s 5000-plus-member mega-churches) without multi-millions in budget or endowment, they would need to sell their present church in order to acquire a new location and build a new one.

These folks are no dummies. According to Pew’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, a mere 3/10ths of 1% of Americans are Unitarian-Universalists (2008), and yet when “Dr. Ellsworth Huntington of Yale studied the listings of people in Who’s Who in America [he] concluded, ‘The productivity of the Unitarians in supplying leaders of the first rank has been 150 times as great as that of the remainder of the population.’" "The Unitarian Universalists." The Iowa City Society’s membership is the local equivalent, and includes some with very savvy business knowledge and experience. Moreover, devoid of a single, compulsory doctrinal agreement, Unitarians' efforts are driven by their ethical bearings -- which include respect for art, culture, and architecture.

Yet, despite their many efforts and good intentions, they found themselves caught up in the real estate equivalent of the country song lyrics, "you can’t win, you can’t break even, and you can’t get out of the game." It’s a game that includes a number of players, some of whom are politically powerful: the owners, developers, historic preservationists, City and other public officials, investors, and the public at large -– including the occasional blogger.

The Society would like to have seen the church preserved, given its deserved historic designation, and put to other uses -– as has been done with other local churches. (Failing that, if the building is to be demolished, many members have supported a controlled demolition that would permit the salvage of materials that could be used in building the new church.) Alas, neither the City, nor any other potential purchaser, came forward. With the church, and its undetermined preservation status, they (and developers) say it was worth about $500,000; without the church, and available for high-rise construction projects, plus multi-million-dollar TIFs from a generous City Council, it could be worth $2.5 million -– apparently enough to pay for the Society's demolition of its church, a move, purchase of land, and construction of a new church.

And so it was that they ended up playing out the tragedy of fighting for the right to demolish their own church.

In doing so, their frustration was certainly understandable. But I think it was unfortunate that it also took the form of statements seemingly dismissive of any value to historic preservation -- values that seemingly all in the Society had supported earlier in the process:
"When it comes down to our mission . . . it’s not about a building."

"We’re ready to use this property . . . as a way to generate income."

"[I]t is my hope that you did not join UUSIC because of the building . . .."

"If an application for a landmark designation were submitted for the City Council's consideration, the society [will] file a formal objection. We are determined to go to whatever lengths we have to . . .."

"Unitarian Universalist officials say . . . any concern about what might happen to the building or the land . . . are secondary."

"It’s not about moving. It’s not about a building."


There are probably many buildings preserved that most people would agree need not be; as well many more that most would agree should be preserved but are not. The majority of buildings fall somewhere in between -– with some people for preservation, some not, and many apathetic.

My first preference for societal resolution of economic issues is the marketplace -– when it works, meaning enough competition to serve customers’ needs regarding choice and price, and the full transparency and access to information needed by consumers to make their informed decisions possible.

But when there are market failures we need alternatives, usually in the form of public ownership, or government intervention and regulation. “The market” is especially ineffective in preserving things: creating wilderness parks (such as our national and state park systems), museums to hold art and artifacts -- and protecting historically and architecturally significant buildings from demolition.

One of the other recent examples of our bungling structures' preservation, involving the Civil War and literary cottages, was at least said to be, in part, a failure of prior decisions, planning, and timing.

We do have local efforts to designate areas of the city, and buildings, as worthy of preservation, plus zoning and building code provisions and processes. Perhaps it would be more helpful if we had more complete plans, and lists, agreed to by the City, and utilized without routine “exceptions.”

I don’t have “the answer.” (Law professors just “spot the issues” and ask questions.) But it seems to me this may be one of those instances in which taxpayer funding, to at least some degree, is both necessary and appropriate -– federal, state, county and local.

The City has been willing to throw around millions of dollars in TIF benefits to the private profit of developers building commercial and residential buildings. Today's morning paper reports yet even more generosity. Apparently the City Council is considering adding another million or two to taxpayer support of a downtown hotel project, up to $8.8 million. This is apparently needed because some unknown corporation called Hilton Hotels would otherwise be unable to build. Right. Mitchell Schmidt, “IC May Devote $1 Million More to Downtown Hotel,” The Gazette, March 9, 2015, p. A3.

This is not just a historic preservation issue. Even if one held no values other than money, at least a sprinkling of maintained, historic buildings can contribute as much to a community’s downtown attractiveness (and its businesses' profits) as a variety of other features that make people want to go there.

To make sure that happens, that buildings like the Unitarian Church are preserved, the City should be willing to invest some portion of the same amount of money in them as it does in its shiny new, TIF-ed high rises.

All of which brings us to another set of related, and central, issues about which I profess even less expertise: the pricing, and taking, of real estate value, and the impact of zoning and historic preservation designations. (With churches, of course, we have the added complication of their tax status and the Constitution’s First Amendment prohibition of governments making laws “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . ..”)

Governments can purchase –- or simply take –- private property (though there are minimums it must pay, and limits on its ability to do so when it subsequently hands the property over to another private party).

What is the “fair value” (if that be our standard) for, say, an acre of land zoned (and taxed) as farm land at the edge of town: what a willing buyer would pay for it to grow produce for local sale; or, what a developer would pay for it once it is rezoned for her 25-story high rise filled with $1 million condo units? That is one of the issues in the Unitarian church case -– a $2 million issue.

If the citizens of Iowa City, and the City Council, were to have agreed that the Unitarian church should be preserved, and that something should be paid to the Society for it, what would be a fair price? What the developers’ marketplace dictates ($500,000 with a protected church on it); what the property is worth with the church demolished ($2.5 million); what it would be worth if the zoning restrictions were changed and a 40-story office and residence building were built there with the aid of multi-million TIF benefits?

How about saying the owners of buildings to be preserved, and given to the City, should be compensated by the City enough for -- in this case -- the Society to acquire land and a building (whether pre-existing or built from the ground up) of roughly the same acreage and building size as what it has now? If the owner, in this case the Society, wants more land and building than that –- which in this case it does -– it will have to raise or borrow the additional money on its own. The City would commit to the preservation of the building and its use for City or other non-profit purposes; as for example, the preservation of the original Carnegie Public Library (across from the current Iowa City Public Library) now used by the University.

Wiser folks than I can undoubtedly come up with more and better solutions. Mine is merely an illustration, not "the answer." But whatever we might end up deciding to do in the future, it is clear to me that we -– as a community of citizens, some of whom are officials or business people -– simply must not repeat what the members of the Unitarian Society have been put through.

# # #


Related Local News and Opinion, December 2014—Early March 2015

Josh O'Leary, "Another central IC church eyes possible relocation," Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 13, 2014 (includes list of other churches that have been demolished, closed, moved or repurposed).

Karen Nichols • Top Commenter • Iowa City, Iowa
It sounds like the developer would demolish an historic building that dates back practically to the founding of the town. Please, somebody step up to save that gorgeous old place.
December 12, 2014 at 5:41pm

Dan Brown • Iowa City, Iowa
I would hate to see that place go. I understand the needs of the congregation must come first (I was a member of the 1st Presbyterian Church where the deck on was made to move from Old Brick to Rochester) but I have celebrated so many rites of passage and performed in that space so many times that I can't help but rue the possibility that it could be displaced.
December 12, 2014 at 6:23pm

Matt Falduto • Top Commenter • Coralville, Iowa I hate to see it go too. I got married there and have performed in and produced many, many shows in that basement space. It will definitely be sad to see it go.
December 13, 2014 at 6:22am

Donald Baxter • Top Commenter • Iowa City, Iowa
Another piece of historic Iowa City is about to get smashed.
December 13, 2014 at 8:00am

Tim Weitzel • Top Commenter
Relocation of the UU from this building does not mean the building must be torn down, but will the developer see it that way? Will they seek a logical course to ask for a density bonus to remove the addition and build there, achieving both development and preservation goals? Will the City seek to accommodate such a plan?
December 14, 2014 at 5:41am

Pam Michaud, "Save the cottages and Gilbert Street zoning," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 8, 2015

("The Aug. 14 HPC meeting discussed Local Landmark and National Register status for 10 S. Gilbert St. UUSIC leaders were invited but did not attend.

These blocks should provide a gentle transition between the taller buildings downtown and the adjacent historic College Green neighborhood. The Comprehensive Plan of 2014 mandates transitional zones between commercial downtown and single-family zoning with maximum building heights of four to six stories. Spot zoning these three blocks to allow disproportionately taller structures would contradict both word and spirit of that plan.

What would the corner of Iowa Avenue and Gilbert Street be without the 1908 Unitarian Universalist church? And what would take its place? More three-bedroom student apartments instead of needed affordable or workforce housing? Yet another TIF-financed tower for upscale hotel and housing for the affluent to shadow Chauncey Swan Park? It is time to stop ambitions from tearing down the unique buildings that represent our history for structures that duplicate each other in purpose and appearance.")

Maria Houser Conzemius • Top Commenter • Blogger at Iowa City Patch Outstanding op-ed! I agree completely. Thanks for laying out the issues so beautifully.
January 7 at 10:19am

Jerry Morgan • Top Commenter • Iowa City, Iowa
Well just start some fundraising and find some other ground to put them on and don't interfere with the rights of property owners. Tear them down already.
January 7 at 4:25pm

Holly Hart • Top Commenter • Works at Iowa Shares
Excellent article on the ongoing Saga.
January 7 at 5:32pm

Jeffrey Cox, "Recognizing the Historical Significance of the Unitarian Universalist Church," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 29, 2015

("The Historical Society Report concludes that the church is sufficiently significant to be included on the National Register of Historic Places for its architecture and design, as well as for inclusion in a historic district or conservation area on Iowa Avenue.")

("We can only hope that the members of the Unitarian Universalist Society, many of whom wish to see the church preserved one way or another, will work with the Friends of Historic Preservation, developers and the city of Iowa City to find a way to preserve this historic asset to our community.")


Tim Weitzel • Top Commenter
Of course the State Historic Preservation office, the official repository for site inventory forms in Iowa, would not have commissioned a study or completed the form themselves. It most likely would have been through historic preservation and planning efforts undertaken by the City of Iowa City, though it may have been part of a self-study by the congregation.

The addition does not contribute significantly to the building's architecture, and could be removed, allowing room to build a fairly tall, albeit narrow building.
January 29 at 8:58am

Colleen Higgens, "Letter to the Editor: Historic is not always meaningful or practical," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 5, 2015

(As a member of the Iowa City Unitarian Church, presently located at 10 S Gilbert St., I would like to respond to the guest opinion by Jeffrey Cox ("Recognizing the historical significance of the Unitarian Universalist Church," Jan.29). (br />
Yes, I agree that the building has historic value. Unfortunately this does not make it a building that can be efficiently heated and cooled, with access for all, parking and space for all the activities and events we want to see there.

Yes, I would like to see the city, the Friends of Historic Preservation, developers, or perhaps Cox himself find a way to preserve what he calls "this historic asset to our community." Believe me, the congregation has tried over several years to find a way to remodel/revamp the existing structure to grow with us.

This building has served us well over the last century. We are looking now at building a wonderful new, green, functional structure that will have increasing historic value over the next century.

What Cox wrote might have been useful a year or so ago in our process. Now, it just sounds like second-guessing by someone who has no investment in the process. Again, historic is not always meaningful, useful or practical. Just as I would not ask someone to wear corsets or let their teeth rot for lack of modern dentistry, I think we need to look at architecture that will work in the future, not hobble ourselves to the past.

Colleen Higgins

Laura Hordesky, "I.C. church votes to leave downtown home of 107 years," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 10, 2015

("Protzman said Sunday’s vote, which saw 74 percent of the congregation participate, will let the church live out its mission.

“It’s not about moving. It’s not about a building. It’s about being able to do what we’re called to do in the world,” he said.")

("Unitarian Universalist member Tim Adamson, who has headed the church’s facilities steering committee, said church leaders explored all possibilities, including remodeling or rebuilding on its current site, before calling for a vote. . . . “It’s a watershed moment for us,” Adamson said. “It means that we’re ready to use this property no longer as our home but as a way to generate income for another property. There’s no going back.”)

Tim Adamson, "Unitarian Universalist Society: Moving On, Moving Forward," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 10, 2015.

Andy Davis, "Unitarian Universalist Society Sees Move As New Chapter," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 19, 2015

("But Unitarian Universalist officials say for them, any concern about what might happen to the building or the land on which it sits are secondary to ensuring the congregation finds a new home to accommodate its growth and mission.")

("In 1841, the First Universalist Society of Iowa City formed a congregation and built a small brick building on the corner of South Dubuque Street and Iowa Avenue, where Dulcinea now sits, according to a 1999 site inventory form from the State Historical Society of Iowa. A fire destroyed the building in 1868, according to the form, and a new, Byzantine-style church was built in 1873 on the corner of Iowa Avenue and South Clinton Street across from the Pentacrest. . . .

In 1906, the congregation voted to sell the building to the University of Iowa for $18,000. Construction began in 1907 on the current church at 10 S. Gilbert St., . . ..")

("While we understand and appreciate the historic preservation point of view, it is not practical nor in our mission to preserve that site," Protzman said. "Our mission comes first, and the building as it stands, or even if it is renovated, cannot support our needs now or in the future.")

("The State Historical Society inventory form indicates that although "the office wing detracts from the building's original scale, the building remains sufficiently intact to be individually eligible for the National Register (of Historic Places) under Criteria C," which focuses on the architectural aspects of historic buildings. The form also indicates that the building is eligible because it is associated with significant events and the lives of significant persons, and may yield significant archaeological and historic information.")

("At its meeting Feb. 12, the Historic Preservation Commission requested that the Planning and Zoning Commission give the property special attention when considering rezoning applications for possible nearby developments. The Historic Preservation Commission also recommended that the city explore ways to facilitate preservation of the building as a community facility.

"This building could really serve the city, and the citizenry should encourage the city to save this building," said Historic Preservation Commission Chairwoman Ginalie Swaim during a Feb. 12 commission meeting. "It could hold cultural events; it's right downtown there. It could be a real incubator for artistic endeavors."

"It would make a great city museum," said commission member Pam Michaud during the same meeting. "It gives people a very good sense of historic architecture."

Friends of Historic Preservation Executive Director Alicia Trimble said she thinks there could eventually be a solution that would allow the church to be preserved and also allow the society to move to a site that better suits its needs.

"I think the city should purchase the property. For about 40 years the city has had an agreement with the society that if the society ever decided to sell, the city would be an interested buyer," Trimble said. "The supposition was that the city would knock down the addition and put up a bigger fire station. I've had conversations with a few of the society leaders, and they've said they have not gotten a response from the city yet."

Trimble also said the church could be an asset to the community and provide space for smaller organizations to host functions.

"I've had conversations with the local arts community about it. There's a small stage on the ground floor where smaller groups gather if they wanted to have a small presentation on that stage. I think it could be a great community center, and I really think it would be a great location for more community development," she said.

Trimble said Friends of Historic Preservation has not submitted any applications to the city to designate the church a local historic landmark.)


Sue Young • University of Iowa
The City should acquire this site as expansion of the current city hall/police station/fire department building adjacent to it. This is the only part of the block NOT owned by the city. If they are not thinking, they will let a developer buy the land, then pay more to the developer to get the same land. If there is a standing first right to buy from the city, the city should buy it. And it is too bad to loose this group away from the downtown area. But life goes on.

Editorial, "We Must Protect Our History," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 12, 2015

(Now that the Iowa City Council has denied an application to establish the cottages at 608 and 610 S. Dubuque St. as local historic landmarks, we must ask ourselves two questions: "What did we learn from this process?" And, "Where do we go from here?"

The fate of the Civil War-era cottages has been hotly debated since mid-November, after discussions began about razing them to develop the area. Historically, the cottages were part of Iowa City's first working class neighborhood, which arose south of downtown after the railroad was built in 1856, according to Iowa City's Friends of Historic Preservation. Historians also have tied the cottages to the beginning of the Actualist Poetry Movement in the 1970s.

The debate brought into sharp focus the delicate balancing act of respecting property rights and preserving a community's history.

In this case, we think the council made the right decision.

Mayor Matt Hayek may have said it best Monday night: "It's an unfortunate experience on both sides. It's shameful that these properties have been allowed to deteriorate like this over time ... but it's also shameful that members of the pro-preservation side have demonized the property owner."

While we recognize the role the cottages played in Iowa City's history, we are somewhat bothered by the 11th hour stand to preserve them. If they are so historically significant, we have to question why preservationists hadn't attempted to ensure they continue to be a part of our community long before the owner and potential developer's plans were made public — and after those parties spent considerable amounts of money to begin that process.

The Riverfront Crossings Plan indeed states that preserving the cottages should be a goal and recommends that the city offer incentives for preserving any old buildings in the district. However, development of the area south of Burlington Street has been a city priority for several years — and one that is starting to pay off.

Just a few of the projects underway or planned for this extension of downtown include the University of Iowa's Voxman Music Building and the Museum of Art; a 12-story Hilton Garden Inn Hotel at 328 S. Clinton St.; One Place @ Riverfront Crossings, a six-story, 55,000-square-foot, $12 million building that will provide the MidWestOne Bank with additional office space, drive-through banking and a rooftop reception area; and a proposed 15-story, 154-unit mixed-use high-rise at 316 S. Madison St.

Riverfront Crossings also includes an example of the city working with a developer to preserve a piece of history. On Jan. 6, the Iowa City Council granted a height bonus to XJ-23 LLC, owned by the Clark family, for a five-story residential building with 20 multi-family units, parking and open space, provided the historic Tate Arms boarding house at 914 S. Dubuque St. be preserved. The Tate Arms building will be restored and converted into a duplex.

One of the biggest lessons we urge the community to take from the cottages controversy is the importance of identifying and promoting our historic properties long before they are on the chopping block.

Here are a handful mentioned in a recent Iowa City Planning and Zoning Commission meeting agenda to use as a starting point:

•The Sanxay-Gilmore House at 109 E. Market St.

•Unitarian Universalist Society Church, 10 S. Gilbert St.

•A house at 410 Iowa Ave.

•A house at 422 Iowa Ave.

•A house at 505 Iowa Ave.

If you are passionate about preserving any of these structures — or any others in the community — we urge you to act now to take steps to ensure they remain for decades to come despite any growth and progress this great city experiences.

As we said in this space just a few months ago: "As Iowa City works toward making its vision for the Riverfront Crossings District a reality, officials must find a balance between preserving important pieces of history and making way for new development."

We believe this holds true not just for the Riverfront Crossings District, but for all areas of the city.

It's proving to be a bumpy road, but rarely are important decisions easy to make.)


Joye Chizek • Sherrard, Illinois
I think city leaders should be thinking about what direction the city should take for the future. Sure, Iowa City got voted best party town in 2014, but fame like that won’t pull in revenue dollars forever. What’s missing is the full-fledged recognition by UNESCO in 2010 of Iowa City with then only two other large international cities in the world. Leaders with future on their minds would have taken that rare and wondrous designation and run with it. But no…instead of getting I-80 signage and making the most of Iowa City’s unique designation by bulking up on unusual book stores, preserving literary landmarks, encouraging public readings, erecting art to beef up the walk of bronze plaques…they allowed further decline of non-chain ventures and bull-dozed one historic cottage in the middle of the night.

Lots of cars pass Iowa City each day on I-80. Few pull in to spend money outside of the University because they know they’ll find the exact same offering of restaurants and shops down the road a bit. Sad, because Iowa City has an authentic history. In addition to the Workshop, in the 1970s a small group of poets and writers rebelled against the 1950 teaching methods that crippled bursting creativity teaching that writing had per-determined form and structure, not meant for the common man to try much less participate in. So the 14 or so started a literary movement that took the word and shared it freely with the citizens of Iowa City. Block of buildings, that no longer exist, were wrapped with butcher paper soon covers with poems. Dubuque Street was covered with poems “written” with a mop dipped in white wash. From atop the late Jefferson Hotel a poem was written for hours until the paper dipped down to the third floor. Crazy, maybe. Important, for sure. From this, as the world changed and opportunity withered, the members left for the east and west coast where there new writing was adopted by others to become the way all print ads, text messages and most fine literature is acceptably written today. And it started in the small town of Iowa City.

Anyone see the possibilities for a City of Literature that become a place of pilgrimage for those wanting to see literature alive in so many ways…festivals, readings, wide open creativity encouraged along with rare book stores, galleries...a literary haven with of course wonderful rare and creative local restaurants, wines, places to stay where great works were conceived and activity that can only be found in Iowa City everywhere…. or you can ignore the opportunity and destroy every hint the a City of Literature was a valid, if not cheap and easy, option.
February 11 at 3:08pm

Douglas Ward • University of Iowa
It makes me sad that the pro-preservation of a city’s our city’s character is being demonized by a popularly elected official of that same city.

There may be a beautiful mistake made here, I will agree to that assertion. I just don’t feel like we’re owning up to the right mistake. If popular concern about the loss of these two cottages came late in the game, I’m sorry it inconveniences the Mayor’s and the council’s grand plans for our city. I am sorry that the historical relevance is called into question as a defense for continuing on with plans of righteous demolition. I am sorrier still that the need for more glass and concrete structures as an increase to our tax base outweighs the embrace of our municipality’s identity.

I do feel guilty that between my full time job and being a parent and volunteer that I just let the whole Riverfront Crossings plan consume a couple of insignificant structures on my daily commute. Yes, that’s all they are. Points of interest that I can enjoy discussing with friends as we shop for used books or eat at Her Soup Kitchen. Had I just kept a more vigilant eye on my elected representatives this wouldn’t have been an 11th hour plea for mercy. Because everyone knows that if you can’t operate on money’s schedule, you don’t deserve to make the agenda. So yes, I am also sorry to inconvenience the developer and city planners.

As a transplanted Iowa City resident I’ll just do my best to embrace the change that is apparently what my elected officials think is best for my town’s future. I will turn my back on the distant past like a good soldier and concentrate on my reflection in the shiny new green glass and concrete of our future. Thank you for showing me the light Mayor Hayek, and thank you Press Citizen for reminding me that our apparently collective vision of being almost as cool as Coralville may be a bumpy road but that’s a clear sign an important decision is being made, and made correctly.
Douglas Ward
February 11 at 7:59pm

Andy Davis, "Unitarian Universalist Society to Seek Demo Permit," Iowa City Press-Citizen, March 5, 2015, p. A1

(Adam Ingersoll, a member of the society’s board of trustees and its New Facilities Committee: "when it comes down to our mission, our identity and those who we’re trying to serve, it’s not about a building.")

("Alicia Trimble, executive director of Friends of Historic Preservation, said her organization has no plans to apply for landmark designation of the church.

“I haven’t talked to my board, but I don’t think at this point we want to submit an application for the church,” Trimble said. “The Historic Preservation Commission, as well as the Planning and Zoning Commission, have said it’s landmark-worthy. Someone will apply for landmark designation.”

Ingersoll said if an application for landmark designation were submitted for the City Council’s consideration, the society would file a formal objection with the city, meaning six out of seven council members would have to vote in favor of designating the church. . . . “We are determined to go to whatever lengths we have to to secure the rights for our future buyer that deliver us the value we need,” Ingersoll said.")

Andy Davis, "Council fails to approve comprehensive plan amendment," Iowa City Press-Citizen, March 10, 2015 (“'Because of property tax reform that was approved at the state level in 2013, we may have significant issues in the future,' council member Susan Mims said. 'To be able to continue to support not only the arts, but social services, will become more difficult unless we are able to build our tax base.'”)

Andy Davis, "Council Decision Slows Chauncey Project," Iowa City Press-Citizen, March 13, 2015 ("The council's denial of the amendment also could affect the Unitarian Universalist Society of Iowa City's plans to sell its property at 10 S. Gilbert St., including its 107-year-old church, and relocate.. . . Adam Ingersoll, a member of the society's board of trustees and its new facilities committee, said a plan to apply for a demolition permit was a dual effort to prevent historic landmark designation of the church and to sell the property at its highest value, which, he said, could be diminished by the council's decision.")

Dave Tingwald, "Keep the Downtown Buffer," Iowa City Press-Citizen, March 18, 2015 ("The proposal for high-rise zoning — which I am grateful failed due to lack of a required supermajority — raises suspicion of an agenda that would degrade the adjoining neighborhood, abandon the city’s central campus, or gift it piecemeal to politically-connected developers. In any case, I am opposed, and will score this vote in upcoming elections.")

Robert Richardson, "Unitarians missing a sense of place," Iowa City Press-Citizen, March 19, 2015, p. A5 ("Irving Weber must be spinning in his grave as this city continues to tear down its historic buildings. . . . I am disappointed by the callous nature of several [UUSIC]members’ remarks regarding the building’s eminent demise. One long-term member said, 'If they have a bonfire, I’ll bring the matches.' A staff member said, 'If anyone wants to preserve the building, they are welcome to move it.' The Unitarians like to recite their history as dogma. The date of the Society’s founding is always part of every service. Well-known historical figures who were Unitarian are always mentioned. But, a sense of place is not on the agenda. Unfortunately, one is only allowed to tear down a 107-year-old building once.") And see, Ry Richardson, "Ry Toonz," blog.

Janice Frey, "What's the Big Picture Here?" Iowa City Press-Citizen, March 20, 2015 ("The only picture I see emerging from this council is one that welcomes buildings devoid of character and rich in vacant commercial space: the hallmark of dying cities. If the mayor and the City Council are truly pro-preservation, they should step up and take some leadership on the issue instead of demolishing buildings that provide the historic interest and character that make this town an enjoyable place in which to live and visit.")

Kenn Hubel, "Time for Unitarians to Move On," Iowa City Press-Citizen, March 23, 2014, p. A9 ("Fellow Unitarian Universalist Robert Richardson ('Sense of place not on Unitarians’ agenda,' March 19) tells of the comfort he felt in the sanctuary of our building following the death of his wife and of his sorrow that it may be demolished. . . . I, too, regret the loss of a special place that has provided comfort at significant times in my life, but it is time to move on.")

The Press-Citizen maintains a page for items related to the Iowa City Unitarian-Universalist Society that now contains 29 Items:

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Tim Weitzel's Page

Tim Weitzel
March 7 at 2:39pm ·
Let it be said now that not all options have been pursued. While the previous UU building was sold to the University, who tore it down, a demolition of iust the education wing of the current UU building would allow for a fairly tall structure, if that area is included in the Central Business District, provided the City was willing to loose some parking lot space during construciton, and or close a lane on Gilbert temporarily (which should not be a big deal as we are hopefully moving to a road diet there soon anyway. A restaurant or shop could use the existing building provided a successful rezoning was accomplished, something that needs to happen no matter what occurs next on this parcel, with the exception of another institutional use. Or, alternatively, the building might be moved, though that is always a tough sell.


Thomas L. Fiegen likes this.

Bobby Jett
it will be interesting to see how this turns out
March 8 at 5:39pm

Warren Paris
Iowa City always needs another restaurant. Serving food in the Ole England manner, just using hands.
March 8 at 7:14pm

My own Facebook notice of the March 7 blog essay, at 1:56 p.m., produced 6 likes and the following two comments:

Tim Weitzel
The UU building looked like a church, was called "Byzantine" in a appearance locally, and was located on the northeast corner of Iowa and Clinton Sts. It was sold to the University, which used it for a time and then tore it and a couple of former residences downtown for small dormitories sometime after 1947. Those were subsequently cleared for Philips Hall in 1964 or '65.
March 7 at 4:28pm

Sam Osborne
On the current location of Philips Hall, and after demolition of the church, corrugated World War II barracks were constructed. When I came to Iowa I had some classes in them. These structure and Quonset huts of the same material were all over campus and were used as married student housing. After getting out of the army I live in one half of one is Stadium Park somewhere close to the location of the new indoor football facility. Maybe Nick remembers the Holy Quonset (as it was called) that housed St. Thomas More Church---it was up on the high bank west of flooded Hancher that sits were ponds off the Iowa river were until they were filled in.
March 7 at 3:36pm

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