Gazette: UI Office of Sustainability Moves to Old Capitol Town Center
November 27, 2011
The Office of Sustainability is the latest University of Iowa entity to move into Old Capitol Town Center.
UI sustainability staff moved last week into a first-floor space at the mall that used to be occupied by the Meta Home store. The former Office of Sustainability was in the University Services Building, a few blocks from campus at the corner of Prentiss and Capitol streets.
Officials hope being closer to the heart of campus will lead to more interaction with students. There also was a need to free up more space in the University Services Building.
“It probably wasn’t as visible a location as we would have wished it to be,” Sustainability Director Liz Christiansen said of the office’s former space. “Now being in the University Capitol Centre, I can tell you we’ve already had people walk by and stop in. I hope our office becomes much more visible to the community.”
The UI calls its offices at the mall the University Capitol Centre.
The new office also is an example of sustainability practices at work, Christiansen said. The office has chairs and office furniture made with recycled content.
“We wanted to be a working example of how an office can be more energy efficient and more sustainable,” she said.
The UI owns the entire second floor of the mall, except for the space where SourceMedia Group has its Iowa City office. The UI owns just less than 65 percent of the mall space. But of the remaining portion on the first floor owned by a private group, the UI leases some of that space, mostly for offices and functions displaced by the 2008 flood.
The former Meta Home space is about 4,500 square feet. The UI leased it to temporarily house Bank of the West, as part of a deal to buy the bank’s nearby downtown building to make room for a new UI School of Music. As part of that agreement, the UI helped the bank find a temporary location while they wait for permanent space to be developed.
The bank will move into the street-facing portion of the former Meta Home space in the coming months, but they did not need the entire area. So the UI Office of Sustainability moved into the mall-facing portion of that space last week. Walls were built to separate the two areas.
“The intent was to get that space for Bank of the West, and the secondary effect was the opportunity to lease it for the sustainability office,” UI Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations Doug True said. “This is a byproduct of meeting our obligations to Bank of the West, but it’s a great opportunity to bring our sustainability functions and leaders into closer proximity to students.”
The UI signed a five-year lease on that space, at a cost of about $13.50 per square foot annually.
In total, the space the UI leases in the mall — for the University Book Store, School of Music practice spaces, classrooms and offices and other functions displaced by the flood — runs about $18,000 per month for 18,000 square feet, University Business Manager George Hollins said.
UI officials are happy with the balance of the mall and don’t plan to buy more of the space at this point, True said.
“We love that retail downstairs, we want it to be in private hands,” he said. “Anything we do on the first level is a short-term issue.”
The UI last year reached agreement to buy Bank of the West at 301 S. Clinton St. for $3.1 million plus $350,000 in relocation costs. That site and another downtown bank will be torn down to make way for the new School of Music complex. The former School of Music was damaged in the 2008 flood, and classrooms and offices are now scattered around campus and downtown.
Story by Diane Heldt
See it on the Gazette website: http://thegazette.com/2011/11/27/ui-sustainability-moves-to-old-capitol-town-center/