October 18, 2021

City guarantees 53% of reinvestment district funds to project in Legacy Plaza

Catalyst Development to rehabilitate buildings into housing, hotel, event center

Catalyst Development’s project to transform a number of buildings in Legacy Plaza into market-rate apartments, a boutique hotel, a lobby bar and an event center is on its way to receiving more than half of Newton’s Iowa Reinvestment District Funds and a number of tax rebates.

During the Oct. 4 city council meeting, elected officials voted unanimously in favor of a resolution of intent expressing the city’s economic incentive to the project, which, according to city documents, would have a total minimum assessment of $7 million.

In addition to 53 percent reinvestment district funds, the Catalyst Development project — which affects Buildings 1,2, 16 and 20 — would be given a rebate of all the local hotel/motel tax generated by the facility for 10 years and a 10-year tax rebate not to exceed a total of $1.7 million for that time period.

Catalyst Development’s project would provide 50 units of market-rate apartment housing, a 58-room hotel with a craft cocktail lobby and an approximately 500-seat ballroom. Catalyst Development is led by Angela Harrington, who has developed hotel projects in Grinnell and Iowa City.

The city described the project as the “anchor” of the Iowa Reinvestment District, which was provisionally awarded $14 million by the Iowa Economic Development Authority in June. Submittal of the final reinvestment district application will occur prior to February 2022, city documents stated.

According to the resolution, Catalyst Development has committed to establishing and maintaining no less than five, full-time positions in connect to the hotel. The developer also will provide to the city written reports to be in compliance with this requirement. Harrington will also provide the city with quarterly sales tax returns.

The downtown district, Legacy Plaza and the adjacent DMACC campus are the three main areas to be affected by the establish of a reinvestment district.

When a reinvestment district is established, state funding — in the form of future sales tax and hotel/motel tax revenues generated within the district’s boundaries — will funnel through to the City of Newton and be distributed in regular payments over a 20-year period.

The city originally requested $15.4 million from the IEDA to fund its numerous projects within the proposed reinvestment district; in the end, the city provisionally received about 90 percent of the requested amount. About $100 million was allocated to six Iowa communities in this way.

Other than Catalyst Development’s project, the city of Newton has requested to make a “resiliency zone,” which includes the designs, preparations and construction of a bike trail and splash pad. The city also wants to fortify its downtown grant programs for small businesses and improve road infrastructure.

DMACC is aiming to improve infrastructure at Legacy Plaza, particularly in the courtyard. Didier said the construction a public green space and commons area was also included in the proposal. Two academic programs, applied engineering technology and cyber security, would also be added to DMACC.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

Christopher Braunschweig

Reporter with a strong penchant for community journalism.