CBJ Report: University Heights considers Marriott, hotel-motel tax

CBJ Report: October 6

Every week, the Corridor Business Journal shares stories it's working on with CBS 2 News. Here are some of their top stories that will appear in Monday's edition of the CBJ.

University Heights considers Marriott, hotel-motel tax

As plans for a 140-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel progress through early zoning stages, the city of University Heights is asking residents to approve its first hotel-motel tax on the November general election ballot.

University Lake Partners has submitted a proposal to build the hotel at 901 Melrose Ave., and the city has voted to support a new CH hotel zone that would establish procedures for the property to be redeveloped as a hotel, according to city council minutes.

Yet to be reviewed and ratified by the council is a planned unit development (PUD) that would more specifically outline how the property could be developed.

The five-story hotel could have high appeal by being within walking distance of both the University of Iowa's Kinnick Stadium and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. City Council member Jim Lane also updated the council in August on redevelopment of the UI's University Athletic Club. He said the UI is developing a request for proposals for a 100-room boutique hotel, but it is unknown if it will be in University Heights.

Voters will be asked Nov. 7 to consider adopting a 7 percent hotel-motel tax, with 50 percent of revenues going to tourism promotion, and the remaining half going to University Heights to be used 90 percent for neighborhood housing and infrastructure (90 percent) and community revitalization (10 percent).

The city, long focused on preserving its single-family character, has built a list of protections into its conditional zoning agreement with Michael Flaum, University Lake Partners II and Kinnick Yacht Club LLC. Mr. Flaum is the titleholder to 901 Melrose Avenue, while University Lake Partners owns 905 Melrose Ave. and Kinnick Yacht Club owns 909 Melrose.

Alliant Energy announces plans for new Iowa wind farm

Alliant Energy has announced an agreement with Apex Clean Energy to build a 300-megawatt wind farm in northwest Iowa.

The project, dubbed the Upland Prairie Wind Farm, will bring 121 turbines to Clay and Dickinson counties if approved by state regulators. It marks Alliant's second wind expansion in the state, and will push the company's share of wind-generated energy in the state past 33 percent starting in 2020, according to Doug Kopp, president of Alliant's Iowa energy company.

The project would generate enough energy to power about 130,000 homes annually, and is expected to generate approximately $45 million in landowner payments over the next 25 years, according to the company.

Apex Clean Energy, is a developer and financier of clean energy projects. The Charlottesville, Virginia-based company has financed more than $4 billion and 3,000 megawatts of clean energy since its founding in 2009, according to its website.

Alliant received approval in 2016 to add up to 500 megawatts of wind energy at its Whispering Willow Wind Farm in Franklin County, and has requested a similar expansion from the Iowa Utilities Board this year. That decision is expected in January 2018; if approved, the combined projects would represent a $1.8 billion investment and add up to 1,000 megawatts of new wind generation in Iowa.

Rockwell Collins to sell weather forecasting unit

Rockwell Collins has reached an agreement to sell its Texas-based Wilkens Weather Technologies weather forecasting unit.

The information services company DTN announced Sept. 29 that it had reached an agreement to acquire Houston-based Wilkens Weather. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Wilkens Weather will also allow DTN to provide superior tropical forecasts to its weather-sensitive customers, including utilities, transportation agencies and municipalities, the company said.

Weather services also are offered to customers through the Wilkens Weather Mobile App for iPhone and iPad, providing access to daily weather reports, tropical weather forecasts and current weather conditions.

News of the deal comes as Rockwell Collins prepares for a shareholder vote on its impending acquisition by United Technologies Corp.

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