Since the opening of the Mid-America Center and surrounding plaza, the hope was that the area would be bustling with shoppers and diners, both from Council Bluffs and Omaha, as well as visitors from across the region and country.
Unfortunately, the development that the community desired never materialized. The empty storefronts and limited activity have been a disappointment to all involved. Now we have reason to believe that the MAC area, situated next to one of the most highly-traveled corridors in the county at the intersection of I-29 and I-80, can and will draw people from all over the region.
Earlier this year, the Iowa West Foundation purchased the “spine” of the MAC with the goal of revitalization. While the Foundation focuses its efforts on education and healthy families, place-making and economic development initiatives are also a priority.
Our Board of Directors feels strongly about the potential of the MAC area and agreed that the Foundation should serve as a catalyst in moving this development forward with the City of Council Bluffs. Step one of that plan was to activate and incentivize the area as an entertainment district.
We are excited to announce a multi-million dollar development project that will do just that, pending city council approval. The two major anchor tenants include:
-an event and league facility with 8-hardwood courts that cater to select, club and recreational teams across the United States for tournament play;
-and a Courtyard by Marriott select-service hotel, which will feature an in-house restaurant and bar as well as room-service. It also will be connected to the Mid-America Center.
Couple these tenants with a busy movie theater, a tourist-attracting casino, existing restaurants along 23rd Avenue and recreation fields on the south side of I-80 and we see a vibrant future of entertainment for the MAC area that will have a transformational impact on our community.
Current hotel occupancy rates in Council Bluffs, as well as the demand for lodging generated by visiting sports teams to the Iowa West Field House, will make the Courtyard by Marriott a prime place to stay and likely draw more convention business. Community groups and non-profits won’t be left out. They also will have access to the amenities.
Last but certainly not least, these developments will create more than 100 plus full-time jobs in our community.
The total cost of the project exceeds $30 million, for which the Iowa West Foundation will serve as the master developer. With the support of a $1 ground lease from the city of Council Bluffs and tax increment financing (pending city council approval), more than 100,000 square feet of emptiness will be transformed into a regional sports attraction and top-notch hotel, and 70,000 square feet of vacant retail space will begin to fill up.
In short, the MAC area will be anything but a disappointment.