I-80/Middle research campus vision succumbing to development realities: more housing subdivisions

The vision of gleaming glass office towers nestled in a landscaped park-like campus surrounding Bettendorf's Interstate 80/Middle Road gateway is succumbing to the reality that residential subdivisions remain the city's bread-and-butter development.

And while the city's planning and zoning commission isn't holding out for research park development at the intersection, it isn't entirely happy with the first development plan floated at the group's Aug. 17 meeting. Uncertainty over the new density based zoning standards being drafted by the city, along with fears of side-by-side residential and commercial development deadlocked the group over the mixed use plan for 60 acres west of the highly visible interchange.

A Long Grove developer has asked the city to amend its comprehensive plan and rezone the land west of Middle Road, south of I-80 and north of Forest Grove Road for the residential and commercial (retail) use. Grunwald Development LC wants to rezone 4.5 acres for C-2 commercial shopping, six acres for multi-family residential buildings and the remaining 49 acres for traditional single- and two-family residential housing.

The entire parcel currently is labeled as office/research campus in the city's comprehensive plan and would be designated as Urban-Medium Density under the new city zoning ordinance still being drafted. Sewer service is only available currently to about one-quarter of the property at the southwest corner of the parcel.

While commission members were okay with mixed residential and commercial use of the parcel, half of the group was uncomfortable with the development layout which showed commercial zoning next to single- and two-family homes. That scenario at 53rd Ave. and 18th St. has led to a long history of conflict between neighbors and businesses in that area.

Also, uncertainty over the final layout of the streets and how the land would connect with neighboring property to the east and west created a 3-3 deadlock on the commission.

Even though the land use amendment and rezoning were not approved, the request will go to the city council for consideration. Because of the tie vote, a super majority (six votes) will be needed for approval of the plan at the council level.

The I-80/Middle intersection is the most visible city gateway for future development and has long been targeted for the type of office towers/research park settings seen along I-88 in Naperville, IL, or the I-80 and I-35 corridors in Des Moines.

In an effort to encourage just that type of large commercial development, the city purchased property on the northeast corner of the intersection back in 2009, and later paid for grading of the site to make it more visible from the interstate. The site has yet to attract any buyers. One of the major drawbacks of development north of the interstate is lack of city sewer and water service.

Go to top