Roosevelt iowa city

Iowa City (Iowa) board sells vacant elementary to housing developer

April 1, 2021
The former Roosevelt school was sold for $1.25 million despite objections from community members who wanted the bidding reopened.

Despite vocal opposition from community members, the Iowa City (Iowa) school board has decided to sell a former elementary school campus to a real estate developer for $1.25 million

The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports that TWG Development, an Indianapolis-based real estate company, plans to turn the former Roosevelt Elementary School building into workforce housing.

Twenty-seven of those who spoke at a board meeting this week advocated reopening the bidding process in favor of allowing the Al-Iman Center of Iowa City, the area's mosque, to turn the space into a community center.

The mosque was one of five bidders on the property; but TWG far outbid the others.

Sam Rogers, the development director with TWG, was the only speaker at Tuesday's meeting who spoke in favor of the proposal. The company intends to retain the original structure of the 90-year-old building and convert it into 120 to 140 mixed-income workforce housing units. The project would target tenants who make between $22,000 and $50,000 annually and won't include any market-rate housing.

The school board opened the bidding process earlier this month, looking to offload the school that last operated as an elementary school in 2012. It sits on a nine-acre lot and needs more than $6 million in repairs.

Ousainou Keita, the president of the Al-Iman Center, said that if the school board reopened bidding, the mosque was prepared to raise its initial bid of $450,000 to $1 million or more.

Shawn Eyestone, the board's president, said the proposal to throw out TWG's bid for the purpose of allowing other entities to rebid would be a "dangerous thing to do."

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