Mon. Sep 25th, 2023

Designs for CYTown, a planned entertainment district north of Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, include luxury apartments that could rent for $2.5 million over a 10-year lease.
In all, Iowa State University plans to build 20 luxury apartments in the area now known as Tent Row as part of the $200 million CYTown development. The university expects it’s the apartment leases, plus some fundraising, that would pay for 25% of the project’s costs. The remainder would be covered by businesses who want to lease the planned retail, restaurant and office space in CYTown.
Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard has said CYTown could bring in $200 million in revenue over 20 years. The money generated is expected to support future projects in the area, including the renovation of Stephens Auditorium and the Scheman Building, as well as construction of a hotel and convention center to the south.
Nick Joos, spokesperson for Iowa State Athletics, said officials hope CYTown will “successfully capture the same energy and atmosphere” as the two projects it’s modeled after, Titletown in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and the Power & Light District in Kansas City, Missouri.
The Green Bay Packers’ 45-acre Titletown opened in November 2017 and within its first year included a brewery and restaurant, hotel, sports medicine clinic and a park, according to the Associated Press. The team’s owners reported Titletown began contributing to its bottom line within two fiscal years.
But the Power & Light District hasn’t had the same success. The Kansas City Star reported in February 2021 the city had drawn as much as $15 million from general funds to pay off debt payments “because the district hasn’t generated enough revenue to pay off the cost of creating it.”
More:Iowa State’s CYTown gets $28.5 million investment from Board of Regents
So far, Iowa State has gained approval to spend $28.5 million to prepare the 3-acre area for development. Joos has said that cost would be split between the university and athletics: $14.25 million from existing athletics cash reserves, and from the university, $10.25 million in private giving and $4 million of investment income.
Revenue from leases is expected to cover the rest of the development.
“One goal for CYTown is for the university to ultimately see a return on investment from future development,”Joos said. “Of course there will be challenges along the way and we will work with university leadership, city of Ames leaders, and the Board of Regents to address those issues as they arise.”
Construction on the first phase of CYTown is expected to start in the spring. The Iowa Board of Regents recently voted to allow ISU spend $28.5 million to install underground infrastructure, complete parking improvements, raise the elevation of the area above the 100-year floodplain, and move the CyRide Transit Hub.
Building work would start soon after, including on a three-floor medical clinic, two-floor retail and office building, a two-story building for eating, drinking and retail, and a three-story building that would have apartments on its upper floors and retail on the ground level.
The apartments would be available in August 2025, according to the project’s website. They would each include a balcony and garage, would be fully furnished and would include all utilities. Tenants also would have access to a shared club room and workout facilities.
More:ISU plans construction on $200 million CYTown entertainment district in 2022
Ryan McGuire, senior associate director with the Iowa State Athletics, said the university only is considering 10-year leases on the units.
For $500,000 spent over 10 years, a tenant would get a one-bedroom apartment with a balcony that faces away from the center of CYTown.
For $1 million, tenants would get a larger one-bedroom unit and a balcony facing the center of the district, which would have an outdoor public plaza and amphitheater that could be used on game days or for local concerts and other events.
The top tier, $2.5 million, would secure two bedrooms in a corner unit.
McGuire said designers are still working on floor plans, but that’s the basic framework being considered.
Similar to Iowa State’s plan, the Packers own the land where Titletown stands and jointly own or lease the area’s buildings, according to the New York Times. Titletown is managed by Titletown Development, an affiliate of the team.
The Packers, as the only publicly owned team in the NFL, reported Titletown was contributing to its bottom line by the conclusion of the fiscal year that ended March 2020, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
More:‘Jack Trice broke barriers’: New sculpture commemorating ISU player installed at stadium
The team estimated more than 60,000 people used the district within its first few months of operation.
It too has high-end apartments in a 152-unit, seven-story building called TitletownFlats. Units range in size from studios to three-bedrooms, and as of Dec. 16, the Press-Gazette reported 124 of the 152 apartments had been leased.
The building includes a community kitchen, fitness center, game room, outdoor gathering spaces and work spaces.
Yet the units are much cheaper than CYTown’s proposal. A 438-square-foot studio starts at $1,395 per month and a 1,481-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom unit costs $3,495 per month — about $420,000 over a 10-year period.
The Power & Light District in Kansas City, Missouri, covers nine city blocks and includes a half dozen residential properties and an entertainment block known as KC Live!.
The Star’s reporting on debt payments came amid fallen revenues during the COVID-19 pandemic. But then-city manager Troy Schulte told the Star six years earlier he doesn’t “think there will be a point at any time in the foreseeable future, probably the next 20 years, where it actually pays for itself.”
The city guaranteed the development’s debt, but a consulting firm had estimated the district would generate at least three or four times more tax revenue than the actual revenue realized years later.
The district’s first restaurant opened in November 2007, just before the Great Recession, and spaces took longer to lease than expected.
Phillip Sitter covers education for the Ames Tribune, including Iowa State University and PreK-12 schools in Ames and elsewhere in Story County. Phillip can be reached via email at He is on Twitter @pslifeisabeauty.


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