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Filling the rest of Prairie West

Tiffin’s latest development to include several new businesses

TIFFIN– Tiffin has seen a lot of new housing in recent years.
The latest development along Highway 6 will bring additional commercial entities as well.
Prairie West, initiated by developer Jim Glasgow of Iowa City, has been in the works since early 2013. Located just to the west of Clear Creek Amana High School, Prairie West will include a mix of uses, including 10 commercial buildings, 36 units of row housing, 96 apartment units and 98 zero-lot duplex homes in the 55-acre development. Currently, 15 of the zero-lot duplexes, 12 units of row housing and a veterinarian’s office are under construction. Glasgow and veterinarian Mark Brinkman, DVM, explained to the council on May 27 the plans for the new animal clinic.
Dr. Brinkman has animal clinics in Williamsburg and Oxford, but the plan is to move the Oxford clinic to Tiffin.
“With the growth in Tiffin, we feel like if we don’t develop a business here, someone else will, and Oxford would be gone for us,” Dr. Brinkman said. “We look at this as a great opportunity both for us and for the City of Tiffin.”
Dr. Brinkman, who has been practicing veterinary medicine in Williamsburg for 26 years, said he plans to relocate staff from Oxford to Tiffin, and the new building is designed to have at least two to three veterinarians, up to 10 full-time support staff and a few part-time staff.
“We think the population can support that, and it also gives us some flexibility to offer flex hours so we can be open early one day and late one or two evenings,” Dr. Brinkman added.
The building will have five exam rooms, a room to kennel large dogs, a separate room for smaller dogs and another room for cats. In addition, it will be built to accommodate pet boarding, but that service would be added in the future.
Dr. Brinkman said he and his staff had put a lot of thought into naming the new clinic the Pet Health Center of Tiffin.
“We wanted to show we are dedicated to the city, and we were willing to put Tiffin in our name. These guys (Glasgow and his partners) are putting together a quality location, and to tie it into the city I think is a great opportunity for all of us.”
Council member Jim Bartels welcomed Dr. Brinkman to the community.
“We appreciate you coming to the community. People really need it; it’s an important service,” Bartels said.
Brinkman said the new location will also include a lot of new technology, including digital x-ray capabilities. “Our goal is to practice quality medicine,” he added.
In addition to the veterinary clinic, a new daycare center will be added in the development. The building will consist of a total of 6,750 square on each of its upper and lower levels. Other businesses committed to opening in Prairie West’s commercial area are Tiffin Family Care Center and a pharmacy. Glasgow said he is also in negotiations with a chiropractor’s office, fitness center, coffee shop and a physical rehabilitation clinic to locate in Prairie West.
To complement the whole area, Glasgow has proposed an enhanced landscape scheme that will include decorative street lighting and extensive plantings and streetscape design features. Real estate partner Anna Buss addressed the council to explain the plan.
“We are really trying to bring quality businesses to our commercial area,” said Buss. “It will invite more quality businesses. They are not just start-up businesses; they are established, and they are going to bring employees and more business to everyone who is already here.”
Buss said the goal is for Prairie West to have a visual “wow-effect” as people drive by.
“How the place looks is what invites people in,” she said. “People are going to want to come, stay, shop, and move here. And that is a real asset to Tiffin.”
Buss showed the council a comparison between the city code requirements for street lighting and landscape, and what Glasgow proposes as upgrades– similar to the streetscapes created in Kalona. The difference in cost was approximately $200,000, and Buss asked the council to consider helping to pay the difference.
“Anything at all you can do for us, we would really, truly appreciate it. I’ve been looking through your comprehensive plan. It invites people like us in, and it says you will help us. We hope you will,” she said.
Mayor Steve Berner reminded the council that it had approved $125,000 in its Capital Improvements Plan to assist with Prairie West’s streetscape plan. Landscape architect Laura Hawks of Hawks Design, LLC, told the council there were three different grant funding pools the city could draw upon to help pay for trees and beautification as well, including Alliant Energy-based programs Trees Please and Branching Out, and Iowa Department of Transportation grants.
Glasow noted that the city’s funds and grants would only go toward upgrades to the landscaping done on city right-of-way.
“Any of the upgrades presented here are only on city property. Then I will take these upgraded amenities into the private property areas myself,” Glasgow said. If approved, Glasgow said he would install a watering system– a $20,000 expense– so Tiffin public works employees would have to do little maintenance or watering on the new landscaping. “We will upgrade every commercial lot there, so it will be a little more cost to me too, but I’m looking for as much as you are wiling to give me.”
Glasgow said he was willing to talk to developers across Highway 6 to encourage them to consider upgraded streetscapes that go beyond city requirements as well, so development would look similar on both sides of Highway 6. In Prairie West, he noted, every building will likely be valued at over $1 million.
“I think it can be a great commercial area,” said Glasgow. “I’m hoping if we get all the landscaping and amenities in, it will keep going right down the line and get everybody drawn into the Tiffin area.”
Council member Peggy Upton asked if the council would have an opportunity to give input on the streetscape plan once it is drafted.
“Yes,” Glasgow assured. “You would know exactly what bricks, stones, trees, bushes– everything– that would be going in.”
City Administrator Doug Boldt suggested the city’s financial assistance could be phased to match the development’s phases of construction, and that a package plan could be put together to fund the streetscape incrementally.
“That would work for me,” Glasglow said. He anticipated four commercial buildings would be completed by fall, but the 10 commercial lots could take perhaps up to three years to fill.