2015 Best Development Awards


The 2015 Best Development Awards were selected from a pool of applicants each year and judged by an independent group of jurors: Ryan Peterson, president of Impact7G; Liz Christiansen, director of the University of Iowa Office of Sustainability; Jeff Geerts, special projects manager with the Community Development Division of the Iowa Economic Development Authority; and Maureen Collins-Williams, an Iowa public sector professional who trains, speaks and consults with 21st century entrepreneurs and innovators.

Photos from the Awards Ceremony

July/August 2015 issue of the Iowan Magazine

A common theme heard from recipients was the community effort that went into realizing projects, and how much everyone appreciated that 1000 Friends of Iowa recognized not only the larger projects seen in some of the bigger cities, but small town projects as well. Our goal for the Best Development Awards is to inspire people in any sized city to make sustainable choices to improve quality of life in their community and around the state.

We recognized 13 projects from 11 communities across the state of Iowa. The 11 cities recognized in this year’s awards include, Cedar Falls, Ames, Cedar Rapids, Winterset, Sioux City, Manning, Glidden, Council Bluffs, Elkader, Davenport, and Monona.

  • New Residential
  • Renovated Residential
  • Commercial/Civic
  • Renovated Commercial
  • Renovated Civic
  • Mixed Use
  • Leadership
  • Storm Water Management

1st Place New Residential: River Place: 300 State Street, Cedar Falls

300 State Street Exterior

As the first phase of River Place, a local redevelopment project on the riverfront in downtown Cedar Falls, 300 State Street is a three-story, 21-unit residential building. The placemaking and walkability qualities of this new residential project stood out as did several notable aspects of this project:

  • The use of sustainable choices, including pressed recycled paper countertops, wall board made in Iowa from recycled milk cartons, and energy-efficient appliances.
  • 100% occupancy only three months after completion with a diverse range of residents from college students to retirees.
  • The incorporation of large patios, exterior staircases, large sidewalks, and pedestrian lighting that promote connectedness and walkability.

To learn more about 300 State Street and the River Place Development, visit http://www.riverplace-cedarfalls.com/

1st Place Renovated Residential: The Roosevelt, Ames

Built in 1923, The Roosevelt has played a major role in the social, cultural, and educational life of central Ames and is a good example of Progressive-era Neo-classical architecture. Listed on the National Register in 2010, many people in the community felt it was too important to be demolished. After much community input, the school district began to allow tours of The Roosevelt by interested parties. RES Development, Inc. led by Dean Jensen, purchased the 37,000 square foot building in March of 2013.

Several smart growth aspects of this renovated residential project include:

  • Working with the Ames Historic Preservation Commission to ensure appropriate alterations and renovations.
  • Installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system and LED lights, as well as the restoring of original features, such as original baseboards, casing, doors, picture rails, and the exposure of the original concrete floors.
  • 50% of the surface playground and parking asphalt was removed increasing on-site permeable space and decreasing storm water runoff. In addition, after citizens expressed the need to preserve green space, the school district donated the adjoining 1.3 acres of playground for a new city park.

To learn more about this school building renovation, visit www.rooseveltreimagined.weebly.com  

Honorable Mention Renovated Residential: The Albert and Anna Herda House, Cedar Rapids

2009 Photograph


Front with Blazej House

The Albert and Anna Herda House is a small 263-square-foot structure built in 1875 that was severely damaged in the devastating 2008 flood. Jon Jelinek and his family have brought this little house back to life as a bed and breakfast in the heart of the vibrant Czech Village/New Bohemia Main Street District in Cedar Rapids. After the 2008 flood, several historic houses in the District were demolished, leaving just a handful of homes. As the smallest and oldest of these houses, the Herda House is distinctly different than any of the other historic homes on 3rd Street. One of the original project goals was to show how the standards for historic preservation go hand-in-hand with sustainable building practices.

1000 Friends of Iowa believes this renovation project deserves recognition for meeting the Iowa Green Street criteria and for the passion and commitment to saving this little house with a long history.

To find out how you can stay at the Herda House, visit www.airbnb.com/rooms/6227297

1st Place New Commercial/Civic: Cedar Rapids Public Library – Downtown


When the 2008 flood struck Cedar Rapids, the city’s downtown library was destroyed when eight feet of water damaged the building and materials beyond repair. In response to the unprecedented natural disaster, the city rallied to build a new central library. OPN Architects’ design of the new library was guided by three primary ideas: 1) Establish the library as the dynamic center of the city’s urban core; 2) Embrace the transformational shifts in 21st Century technology; and 3) Minimize the building’s environmental impact and long-term operational costs. The library has become a distinct anchor for gathering, learning, and entertainment for downtown Cedar Rapids.

Smart growth aspects that stood out about this project include:

  • A 24,000-square-foot green roof that serves as a key sustainability strategy and one of the unique design features that helped the library achieve LEED Platinum designation. The green roof features rainwater harvesting for irrigation and functionally that aids in storm water management capturing up to 90% of normal annual rainfall and 100% of all rainfall up to 1 inch.
  • The building is located within blocks of the city’s primary urban park, historic theatre, convention center, outdoor amphitheater, restaurants, and hotels and has a walkability score of 72.
  • Reserved parking encourages and rewards the use of fuel-efficient vehicles by the public.

To learn more about OPN’s library design, visit, www.opnarchitects.com/work/cedar-rapids-public-library-downtown/

To learn more about the Cedar Rapids Downtown Public Library, visit www.crlibrary.org

Honorable Mention New Commercial/Civic: John Wayne Birthplace Museum, Winterset

Exterior_Day_Frontal View

Fifteen years in the making, this former brownfield site complicated by multiple former gas stations and contaminates was transformed into a beautiful landmark in the city of Winterset. Angelo Architectural Associates have worked with the museum’s executive director, Brian Downes, for the last 6 years to realize this project. One block from the Winterset Town Square, the museum took several design cues from the city’s century-old courthouse.

1000 Friends of Iowa believes this new building project deserves recognition for creating a destination in Winterset, who as a community is very proud of its John Wayne heritage.

For more information about the John Wayne Birthplace Museum, visit http://johnwaynebirthplace.museum/

1st Place Renovated Commercial: TEC Corp Addition and Renovation, Sioux City


Founded in Sioux City in 1933, Thompson Electric Company had grown into 3 companies, 5 separate buildings with a combined 22,000 square feet and 150 employees as well as offices in Omaha and Sioux Falls. After considering sites in the neighboring states of Nebraska and South Dakota to consolidate operations in a single, large facility, the company, led by CEO Skip Perley, maintained their Sioux City roots with the purchase of the long-vacant 1937 Standard Oil Company building. M+ Architects was brought on to transform the former 66,000-square-foot warehouse into TEC’s corporate offices, production, and storage facility.

Notable aspects of this commercial renovation include:

  • Participation in the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Targeted Jobs Withholding Tax Credit Program – a pilot program that lets employers keep a portion of money that would have gone for payroll taxes for 10 years to invest in expansion.
  • TEC added 50 employees within one year of moving into the new building.
  • The use of passive daylighting, LED lighting, durable materials, and incorporated design of the building’s existing thick concrete floors, exposed brick walls, and large windows.

To learn more about the TEC Corp., visit http://tec-corp.com/home.html

Honorable Mention Renovated Commercial: Deb’s Corner Café, Manning

Deb's Cafe After

Named to Preservation Iowa’s Ten Most Endangered Properties list in 2010, this historically significant building was literally in danger of falling into the street. Deb’s Corner Café occupies one the most recognizable buildings in Manning’s Main Street District and has been considered a landmark since its construction in 1891. The cafe is also the only place downtown to get breakfast and is home to numerous daily coffee clutches.

1000 Friends of Iowa believes this renovation project, with its community involvement and passion, deserves recognition for the following aspects:

  • The original bricks were removed by hand, one at a time, and stacked for reuse to rebuild the exterior face, duplicating the original coursing and panelized configuration.
  • New structural steel columns were placed “behind” the original and then hidden with the installation of a new, wood-frame storefront system maintaining the original canted corner entrance.
  • Countless hours and creative thinking were contributed by many invested parties, including the building owner, city administrators, architects, Renaissance Restoration (masonry business), citizens, Manning city workers, and Iowa State University’s College of Design.

To learn more about the revitalization happening in the Manning Main Street District, visit http://www.manningia.com/main-street-manning.html

1st Place Renovated Civic: City of Glidden Wellness Center


The historic building at the heart of the Glidden Wellness Center used to be home to the local newspaper, which was vacant and dilapidated. Spurred by a local group of high school students who went to City Council and advocated for a wellness center in Glidden instead of having to drive to nearby Carroll, the City of Glidden moved forward with the redevelopment project. 1000 Friends of Iowa recognizes not only the wellness center’s integration of smart development practices but also how health and wellness are integral to living in a thriving, sustainable community.

Noteworthy aspects of this civic project include:

  • The building’s interior was completely gutted with the help of contracted labor from the North Central Correctional Facility and the City’s public works department. Asbestos and black mold were removed on the first floor and basement.
  • The salvaged wood floor was removed, refinished, and repurposed for the classroom floor and the dilapidated roof and brick wall were replaced. The brick was repurposed for crushed landscaping material at a local business.
  • The wellness center boasts energy conservation motion lighting and efficient heating/cooling.

To learn more about the Glidden Wellness Center, visit http://cityofglidden.org/www/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=132&Itemid=85

1st Place Mixed Use: The Sawyer Building, Council Bluffs

Exterior 1

Once a brownfield site (complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant) located in the historic 100 Block in Council Bluffs, this infill project by J Development Co. is now a three-story structure that includes 9,000 square feet of main floor commercial/office space with two stories of housing above, a parking deck including 72 stalls, and 10 row houses, all on 1 acre of land.

Notable aspects of this mixed-use project include:

  • Promotes walkability to a mixed-use district that includes shops, offices, galleries, restaurants, and bars; provides 19 of the 36 apartments.
  • Provides affordable housing with 19 of the 36 apartments rented at 80% of the AMI (average median income), mixing in market-rate housing.
  • Meets Green Street standards to conserve energy; increase resource efficiency; and reduce environmental impacts.

To learn more about Iowa’s Green Street criteria, visit http://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/userdocs/documents/ieda/Iowa-Green-Streets-Criteria.pdf

To see more about The Sawyer Building, visit http://thesawyerbuilding.com

1st Place Leadership: City of Elkader’s Whitewater Park & River Access


After the 2008 flood, residents of Elkader began to brainstorm ideas to reconnect people to the Turkey River. Before the flood, the river was difficult to access and wasn’t integrated into the daily lives of residents. Unfortunately, the devastation of the flood left a lasting impression of what the river represented to Elkader. After a group of volunteers approached city council and received a grant for a hydrology study, plans for an improved river access and recreation project was underway. Completed in 2015, the Turkey River in Elkader now has a new identity in the community.

The leadership qualities that stood out to transform this daunting natural resource into a community cornerstone include:

  • During the summer of 2015, the 185 participants of the Great River Rumble began their river journey in Elkader.
  • Several communities are looking to Elkader’s Whitewater Park to emulate its transformation.
  • In addition to paddling and other recreational activities, a great number of anglers have expressed appreciation for the improved fishing access and habitat.

To learn more about Elkader’s Whitewater Park, visit http://www.elkaderwhitewater.com

Honorable Mention Leadership: Manning Downtown Revitalization

Main St. wide angle

After years of planning, in 2012 the City of Manning was awarded a Community Development Block Grant as part of the Downtown Revitalization Fund. Public-private partnerships and countless volunteer hours drove the comprehensive, 17-facade project. The buildings were constructed between 1885 and 1939, and together span 475 linear feet of Manning’s Main Street. An outdated Bavarian design theme enacted in the 1980s had hidden the buildings’ historic structures and storefronts that were brought back to life during the meticulous restoration process.

1000 Friends of Iowa believes this extensive and infectious renovation project deserves recognition for the community’s vision and commitment to restoring downtown Manning, which have inspired continued efforts to restore and revitalize additional buildings in Manning and also serve as an example to other Iowa communities.

For more information about Main Street Manning and the City of Manning’s extensive revitalization projects, visit http://www.manningia.com/main-street-manning.html

1st Place Storm Water Management: City of Davenport’s 4th & Iowa Streetscape Project (co-winner)

davenport before

davenport after

The before and after pictures illustrate how creative design and problem-solving took an aging city street and transformed it into a sustainable, pedestrian- and tree-friendly streetscape with storm water management driving the project. Due to the project’s impact, the City of Davenport expects to reduce the amount of runoff entering the Mississippi River by 25,000 gallons during a typical rainfall event.

Notable aspects of this streetscape project include:

  • The 21st Century renovation still has a brick boulevard section but now the bricks are permeable pavers that allow rainwater to filter between them into a rock chamber below, reducing pollutants before it enters a drain tile and storm sewer.
  • Lowered tree pits, which are located below the curb and gutter elevation, allow storm water runoff to enter them to provide “free” water to the trees.
  • In the event of large rainfall, an overflow standpipe is located in each tree pit allowing a full tree pit to overflow back into the street where the water will flow into the next tree pit. This domino effect continues until the water is slowed and cleansed or it reaches the storm sewer intake on 3rd Street.
  • With assistance from the City Forestry Department, several large logs were procured and turned into benches and placed around the tree pits. The benches prevent pedestrians from accidentally falling into the tree pits, provide easy access for maintenance, and provide seating.

For more information about storm water management in the City of Davenport, visit http://www.cityofdavenportiowa.com/department/division.php?structureid=434

1st Place Storm Water Management: City of Monona’s Aquatic Center Permeable Parking Lot (co-winner)

Ribbon Cutting Water Demonstration #1 08.27.2015

Completed Project

This YouTube video tells an irrefutable story about the power of permeable pavers. Formerly a crushed stone parking lot with a steep slope and severe erosion that flowed into Silver Creek, the site was transformed by the City of Monona. By taking the steps and making the investment in permeable pavers to help improve the negative impact on the nearby Silver Creek, which was listed as one of the 50 worst sampling sites in the Turkey River Watershed, Monona is a positive example to many communities looking to improve water quality.

Several aspects of the storm water management and runoff project include:

  • In addition, permeable pavers were used on the sidewalk leading to aquatic center and native plants were seeded around the parking lot on the banks of the stream.
  • Due to a State Revolving Fund (SRF) loan for the wastewater project, taxpayer cost was less than 8% of the total project cost.
  • And the most exciting news is that Monona plans to resurface the street leading to the aquatic center with permeable pavers to complement the parking lot project.

For more information about water quality in Monona, visit www.mononaiowa.com/water.htm  

For more information about the awards program, contact Lori Schervish, Best Development Awards coordinator at:  awards@1000friendsofiowa.org[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

People United for Responsible Land Use