Iowa State is seeking companies interested in the new CyTown

This rendering shows Iowa State University’s proposed CyTown development. The university is starting infrastructure work on the project this spring and is looking for vendors interested in housing in the district. (Illustration by Iowa State University)

A restaurant and brewpub are planned for the first phase of CyTown, a retail and entertainment district being developed outside Jack Trice Stadium at Iowa State University in Ames. (Illustration from Iowa State University)

Iowa State University is breaking ground on the $200 million CyTown development this spring and is looking for vendors, retailers and restaurants to eventually populate the regional destination.

CyTown — unveiled in September and modeled after Titletown, near the Green Bay Packers’ Lambeau Field and Kansas City’s Power & Light District — aims to develop 135,000 square feet of new construction, including a medical facility, office space, luxury residential buildings and apartments , retailers, restaurants and pubs.

The Iowa Board of Regents recently approved $28.5 million for infrastructure work that will begin this spring.

The university last week put out a call for “companies interested in potentially locating” in CyTown — described as “a unique year-round mixed-use destination to be built in the heart of the Iowa State Center — between Jack Trice Stadium and Hilton Coliseum.”

The area will include a plaza and an amphitheater, according to a Jan. 3 “request of interest” to accommodate the development. The deadline for responses was February 28.

“This is not a binding locator agreement, but merely a way for you to notify ISU of your interest,” the ISU documents state.

Project details

A tentative timeline for the multi-year project has the first phase starting this spring and ending in August 2025. Officials said they would cover three-quarters of the $200 million cost through “land monetization opportunities” and the rest through donations and the lease of 20 CyTown apartments.

Billed as an “innovative luxury living opportunity,” the 20 fully-furnished one- to two-bedroom units will have 10-year leases, balconies, garages and shared clubhouse and exercise rooms.

“Funding for the parking lot and infrastructure improvements (scheduled to begin in 2023 subject to approval by the Iowa Board of Regents) will come from university and athletic funds, which will be repaid over time with project revenues,” according to the ISU FAQ on the project.

The first phase of the project, according to the brochure, will include four buildings: a three-story medical clinic; two-story retail and office space; a three-story building for CyTown apartments and retail space; and a fourth building on two floors to offer food, beverages and retail.

The project will ultimately cover about 40 hectares.

Prospective commercial tenants are asked to “provide an overview of your business plan related to locating in CyTown,” according to the State of Iowa’s request for interest. “Provide information on any unique ideas you can incorporate to be successful in this new field.”

Hinting at efforts to attract vendors who may be new to the area, Iowa State advertised approximate driving times to places like Omaha, Minneapolis, Kansas City and Chicago in its brochure. It reported 640,972 residents within a 45-minute drive – making for a median household income of $68,469, with a median age of 36.

Within that facility are 254,422 households, 24,813 businesses and 394,712 employees, according to Iowa State, noting that the campus has 29,696 students from all 50 states and 115 countries this academic year. Its research park includes 115 companies spread over one million square feet.

“CyTown will create a vibrant entertainment district that stretches from the campus through the Iowa State Center to the ISU Research Park,” according to the brochure. “This new addition will be a game-changer for the Ames community, providing new amenities for students, faculty, staff, residents, visitors and fans.”

Basic works

Infrastructure work to enable CyTown that will soon begin will include parking lot improvements, relocation of the CyRide Transit Hub, and work to raise the elevation of the site above the 100-year flood plain.

The project would eliminate $12 million to $15 million in deferred maintenance and improve 4,200 parking spaces for the Iowa State Center and about 2,000 daily commuters.

The project aims to build on nearly $175 million in improvements Iowa State recently completed to enhance its entrance to campus — including the new $60 million Stark Performance Center; $50 million Sukup End Zone Club; the $30 million Albaugh Family Plaza and Concourse; and a $14 million RV Village and other parking lot upgrades.

Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.

Comments: (319) 339-3158; [email protected]

The rendering shows a night scene of the amphitheater looking south toward Jack Trice Stadium as part of the planned CyTown, a retail and entertainment district on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames. (Illustration from Iowa State University)

The three-story medical clinic is one of the buildings planned for CyTown, a retail and entertainment district outside Jack Trice Stadium at Iowa State University in Ames. (Illustration from Iowa State University)

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