Iowa City Northside Neighborhood Plan
The Northside Neighborhood has long been a pillar of the Iowa City community, and residents of the neighborhood are proud of their tightknit community. However, factors like housing deterioration, an increase in rental housing without sufficient quality standards, and high land taxes without reflecting reinvestment threaten the character and future of the neighborhood. Northside Neighborhood residents commissioned this project team to analyze housing quality trends and explore property tax revenue compared to that in similar Iowa City neighborhoods.
To assess housing quality in the Northside Neighborhood, a customized questionnaire was designed and coded into a surveying app called Poket. The survey of every parcel revealed high rates of issues pertaining to aesthetics and foundational quality, particularly in the southeast area of the neighborhood closest to downtown.
An analysis of housing trends from 2012 to 2022 found that little has changed in terms of home occupancy rates and use of buildings. A comparison of the Northside Neighborhood with the Windsor Ridge and Weber neighborhoods of Iowa City showed that a) land tax rates in the Northside Neighborhood were higher than those in other neighborhoods, and b) wide disparity in the ratios of cost of reinvestment to property tax revenue, with the Northside Neighborhood displaying the lowest ratio of 20.1, Weber at 26.5, and Windsor Ridge at 33.3.
Considering these findings, we recommend that:
- the City of Iowa City reinvest larger proportions of tax revenue from the Northside Neighborhood back into the Northside Neighborhood. The city can make this reinvestment by adopting tax abatements for homeowners making improvements, or providing grants or low-interest loans to support improvement of Northside Neighborhood homes.
- the city adopts a form-based code for the Northside Neighborhood, creating more rigorous quality requirements for all new construction within the neighborhood.
- the city modifies its preservation guidelines to encourage repairs in deteriorating historical properties, and to update data about historic properties in the city's building permits department to prevent demolition of historic properties.
- Northside Neighborhood residents should explore the creation of a Self-Supporting Municipal Improvement District to generate revenue for neighborhood improvement.