City of North Liberty breaks ground on Centennial Park additions

North Liberty's Centennial Center will open in fall 2025

Attendees and speakers of the Centennial Center's groundbreaking ceremony lift golden-painted shovels on July 9, 2024, in North Liberty, Iowa. CREDIT PARKER JONES

With around 100 attendees gathered under a warm cloudy sky, the city of North Liberty officially broke ground on its upcoming Centennial Center at Centennial Park on Tuesday morning. 

Located at 1565 St. Andrews Drive, the park will see construction begin on the $17.7 million addition this summer, with an expected opening in fall 2025. 

North Liberty’s Assistant Director of Community Relations Jillian Miller kicked off the ceremony by welcoming the crowd and noting how the Centennial Center will draw in visitors to the region. 

“Our intent is that Centennial Park will be a striking place that residents will cherish as a quality-of-life amenity, businesses will boast about when recruiting employees, and visitors rave about when talking about their time in Iowa,” Ms. Miller said at the event. 

The project’s first phase will include the 13,000-square-foot Centennial Center and amphitheater, exterior restrooms, and an expanded plaza space. The center itself will include a catering kitchen and bar area, green room spaces, office space, and a large exterior stage on the south end of the building, according to North Liberty’s project website.

CEO and President of the Community Foundation of Johnson County Shelly Maharry also spoke of the impact the Centennial Center will have. 

“Today marks more than just the beginning of construction,” Ms. Maharry said at the ceremony. “It’s a celebration of what’s possible when community spirit and the power of public and private investment comes together to create a generational resource.”

As of June 28, the city has raised more than $2.3 million toward its $3.5 million goal for phase one.

Subsequent phases of the project will see the construction of a splash pad, wheelchair-accessible playground, picnic shelter, year-round pavilion, honor garden, and expanded parking. 

Nick Pfeiffer, the vice president of public affairs with Think Iowa City, also shared a few words on how the additions will boost Johnson County’s economy. He estimated that Centennial Park would draw in an additional $11.5 million per year once the additions are complete. 

“With the addition of Centennial Center and the amphitheater, North Liberty is expanding the horizons for what entertainment possibilities can be offered in this community, and for our region,” Mr. Pfeiffer said. “Tourism and community attraction are vital to the growth and vibrancy of any city.”

North Liberty City Administrator Ryan Heiar speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Centennial Center on July 9, 2024, in North Liberty, Iowa. CREDIT PARKER JONES

Next to speak was Jennifer Hoffman, project manager for Shive-Hattery, the architectural firm overseeing the design of the Centennial Center. Following Ms. Hoffman was Doug Larson of Larson Construction, which won the bid to be the general contractor for the project. 

Wrapping up the speeches was North Liberty City Administrator Ryan Heiar, who spoke of the way the Centennial Center will change the lives of local residents, current and future. 

“The focus on economic development today, now, is quality of life and placement. It’s much more common today for people to search for a community they love first, and a job second,” Mr. Heiar said. “This project embodies quality of life and will have a positive impact on residents, visitors, and importantly, future residents looking for employment. The Centennial Center and stage and the future basis will certainly entice people to move to North Liberty.”