The land formerly occupied by Mid-Iowa Motel before it was demolished last year has a potential buyer, and City of Newton staff are accepting other potential bids until the end of the week. A public hearing to discuss a potential development will be held during the Newton City Council meeting Dec. 16.
Mid-Iowa Motel, located at 1803 First Ave. E., was purchased by the city in May 2018 for $200,000 as part of its Commercial Dangerous and Dilapidated (D&D) Program, Newton Daily News previously reported. City staff decided the building would be demolished to make room for possible redevelopment in the near future.
Almost one year ago, Mid-Iowa Motel was no more. Crews demolished the structures for approximately $69,216. The unsightly and dangerous property garnered close to 88 calls to the Newton Police Department in 2017 for disputes, unwanted guests, theft, drugs and harassment, among other crimes and complaints.
Demolishing the building also improves the city’s curb appeal, which continues to be a focus since the adoption of Newton’s comprehensive plan. By abating unattractive and unsafe properties, the city claims it improves the aesthetics of Newton neighborhoods.
Since the demolition of Mid-Iowa Motel, there has been expressed interest in the vacant property along the highly traveled First Avenue East. Offers from potential buyers will be accepted by the city’s community development department until 4 p.m. Friday.
Staff will present the proposals to council the following Monday.
If a majority of council members do not like any of the offers that are received, then the Newton City Council can vote to not approve the sale of the property.
Erin Chambers, director of community development, said the land is current zoned for commercial properties, including retailers, multi-family housing and just about any other business resembling anything that is presently operating on First Avenue. Current zoning also allows a possibility for another hotel to be built.
The public hearing is a result of the city’s sustained interest in its D&D program, which has remained a priority among council members for the past few years. In the 2018-2020 city council goals, council members listed D&D program funding as their No. 1 priority. The most recent council goals list identifies “more D&D” in its No. 3 spot, tied with three other goals.
“In a year’s time, to have removed a blighted property, demolished it, cleaned up the property and hoping to have some interest in redevelopment there, that’s really exciting and great news for Newton’s local economy, as well as the D&D program,” Chambers said.
Funds acquired from the sale of D&D lots go back into the city’s D&D program for other projects.
Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or firstname.lastname@example.org