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10 Iowa communities vying for state hotel, sales tax dollars


Ten proposed projects with capital budgets totaling $1.6 billion are competing for consideration in the state’s Iowa Reinvestment Act program overseen by the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

The state program allows communities to use new state hotel/motel and sales tax revenue generated by new developments to be reinvested in the area in which the development is located.

The state this year is providing up to $100 million in newly generated tax revenue for qualified projects. The deadline to submit “pre-applications” was last week.

Communities, in their applications, requested a total $201.6 million in new tax revenue from the state.

Applications were submitted by Ames, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Dyersville, Fort Dodge, Johnston, Newton, Norwalk, Urbandale and West Des Moines.

An evaluation committee will score the applications on a set of criteria that includes uniqueness, economic impact, project feasibility, capital investment, funding leverage, nonretail focus and readiness for development.

Communities whose applications receive an average score of 70 or higher will be invited to present project proposals to the IEDA board for funding consideration, the agency’s spokesperson said.

The board is expected to make its decision on which projects will receive funding by May or June, the spokesperson said.

Among the projects seeking funding are a Des Moines proposal that would include the development of a professional soccer stadium on a Superfund site; a joint proposal from Urbandale and Des Moines that includes converting a former Merle Hay Mall department store into a multiuse arena; and a proposal from West Des Moines for the redevelopment of Valley West Mall.

Also, Johnston is seeking a portion of the funding to help pay for redevelopment along Merle Hay Road.

The state’s Reinvestment District Program has been in place since 2013 and has provided key financing to several high-profile Iowa projects including the $101 million convention hotel in downtown Des Moines. The hotel received $36 million from the program, the largest amount provided for any project. A Mason City project that included converting empty department store space into an arena where hockey is played received about $7.1 million through the program.    

Related article: 2 high-profile projects proposed for metro area will go head-to-head for state tax dollars

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