A proposed entertainment district in North Liberty will include a 33,600-square-foot sports recreation facility that could generate $30-40 million in new revenue for the city. That's according to Brandon Pratt, owner of Lion Development Group, who told North Liberty City Council Jan. 24 the growing city is in desperate need of more entertainment options. "It's […]
A proposed entertainment district in North Liberty will include a 33,600-square-foot sports recreation facility that could generate $30-40 million in new revenue for the city.
That's according to Brandon Pratt, owner of Lion Development Group
, who told North Liberty City Council Jan. 24 the growing city is in desperate need of more entertainment options.
"It's no secret we have too few attractions to keep families here locally," he said. "This needs to be a place to live, work and play."
The recreation facility, called the Palestra (Greek for "gym"), is one of three buildings on a proposed $20 million development at Solomon's Landing, which includes a new Pizza Ranch location and a lesiure hub
with a state-of-the-art bowling entertainment center called Bowldogs, as reported by the CBJ in November.
Remaining ground undeveloped to the east is currently drawing interest from national tenants including a potential hotel, retail stores and new brands to the community.
"This project provides rocket fuel to building out the remaining Penn St. corridor," he said.
Palestra sports facility
Lion Development is seeking a public-private partnership with North Liberty to fund the recreation facility, although he expects $30 million in revenue will be generated due to the addition of a sports facility over the next six or seven years if the project comes to fruition. He is looking for a tax increment financing (TIF) rebate grant which would exempt the project from certain property taxes.
Mr. Pratt said the multi-purpose facility would include community-based events and club sports teams. The Palestra would accomodate basketball, indoor soccer, futsal, volleyball, wrestling, agility training, pickleball, eSports and indoor remote control airplace races. It would be located near the intersection of Penn St. and N. Jones Blvd.
The space would eliminate the need for local kids to travel to Tiffin, Coralville or Iowa City for gym space, he said. A 3,400 mezzanine AstroTurf area would have offices for refs, coaches, massage therapists and chiropractors nearby.
It will not prioritize baseball or softball, although it is open to collaboration with Iowa City-based Diamond Dreams Sports Academy.
A feasibility study for a similar project in Ankeny determined a city partnership was essential for any development to make money. The Ankeny facility is expected to generate more than $1.5 billion in net new spending over 30 years.
Ankeny officials found that for every $1 invested by the city in the sports complex, $5.09 is returned to the community through local business, restaurants, shopping and more.
High hopes for Bowldogs
Bowldogs is planning to have 16 luxury bowling lanes, including four lanes for an inside private party area. It would also consist of a large social bar, TV wall, axe throwing event area, private bays, a mezzanine overlooking the facility, dart boards and billiards.
A live TV feed would let customers watch other games taking place at the Palestra while exploring Pizza Ranch and Bowldogs.
"While the goal isn't to rebuild Disney in North Liberty, it's important for everyone to understand that Bowldogs won't be a normal, local bowling center," Mr. Pratt said. He hopes the entertainment center would rival other top facilities in all of Iowa.
Between Pizza Ranch and Bowldogs is a 4,000-square-foot game zone with a redemption style counter.
A completed entertainment district will stretch over 8.38 acres, approximately 80,000-square-feet of new commercial space and is likely to draw even more interest in residential housing
also in development from Lion Development Group, he explained.
An ownership group out of Des Moines, that manages similar facilities throughout the state, is investing in and will manage the Palestra. It is likely Mr. Pratt will be involved financially in the Palestra. He will own the Pizza Ranch but will not operationally manage Bowldogs.