Students work with Mt. Pleasant officials to build residential, commercial development
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Map showing 10 acre parcel near Mt. Pleasant
Image courtesy of city of Mt. Pleasant.

A group of University of Iowa students is helping to determine the best development options for a piece of land in Mt. Pleasant located near the intersection of two heavily-trafficked highways.

The students are taking a real estate class this spring taught by John Gallo, a member of the finance faculty in the Tippie College of Business. He says the ten-acre parcel is near the intersection of U.S. Highways 34 and 218 in the Henry County seat of 8,700 people about 45 miles south of Iowa City.

John Gallo
John Gallo

Given its strategic location, he says it has the potential for a high-value development and presents a wide range of development possibilities for the 13 business and urban and regional planning students in his class. They’re spending the semester performing various economic analyses of the land, including market and retail analyses and growth projections for the region, and cost estimates for running city utilities to the property. They’ll present their final report to a group of Mt. Pleasant city and business leaders in early May.

Gallo says the students have determined that a mix of retail and residential presents the highest development potential. In their final report they will recommend the retail mix, and whether the housing on the property should be single or multi-family.

The UI students will make their presentation to various Mt. Pleasant municipal and development groups at 10 a.m. Friday, May 9, at the Mt. Pleasant Library/Civic Center, 307 E. Monroe St.

Gallo’s class is an annual offering that gives students the opportunity to work on an actual real estate development project, incorporating all of the elements a project entails. In the past, they’ve participated in the redevelopment plansof Westdale Mall in Cedar Rapids and the Towncrest commercial area in Iowa City.

“The course provides students with valuable commercial real estate experience while making a material contribution to the local professional and civic community,” says Gallo. “Although topically a real estate course the semester projects incorporate elements of urban planning, marketing research, and finance into the analysis.”

The class also lets students work with professionals from the public and private sectors during the semester. For this project, they’ve worked with Mt. Pleasant’s city administrator and economic development coordinator, the land owner, local developers, elected officials, and business owners. Gallo says the meetings provide students with guidance not only on their current project, but on the field of urban planning and real estate development in general.

“The students have done their research and articulate very clearly their findings,” says Brent Schleisman, Mt. Pleasant city administrator. “The students are bright and talented and the experience is extremely positive for myself and the Mount Pleasant community. I hope we could do more projects like this in the future.”