District planning

The South District is one of ten planning districts in Iowa City. As elements of the Comprehensive Plan, district plans are intended to promote patterns of land use, urban design, infrastructure and services that encourage and contribute to the livability and sustainability of Iowa City and its neighborhoods. These plans are advisory documents for directing and managing change over time and serve as a guide for decision-making, public deliberation and investment (public and private).

Originally adopted in 1997, the South District Plan was the first  of Iowa City’s ten district plans. Following the announcement of a new elementary school to be constructed along South Sycamore Street, the City Council directed planning staff to update the existing plan to ensure that new neighborhoods surrounding the school develop in a sustainable manner in accordance with the IC2030 Comprehensive Plan and in accord with the priorities of the City’s Strategic Plan. The update to the South District Plan was adopted on October 20, 2015.

What is the South District?

The South District Planning Area includes all land within the Iowa City growth boundary south of Highway 6 and east of the Iowa River (see map). The growth boundary indicates the area of land that can be served by the South Wastewater Treatment Facility without need for lift stations, and thus does not extend further south than the south wastewater plant. A large wetland conservation area (Snyder Creek Bottoms) located east of the Sycamore Greenway and south of a future extension of MCollister Boulevard cannot be developed and thereby serves as a natural boundary for urban development in the southeast portion of the district.  

The remainder of the district is characterized by relatively flat topography, although hydric soils and a shallow water table in certain areas place some limitations on the type of construction that may occur—for example, houses may be built on slab rather including basements. 

The district contains approximately 3,000 acres or 4.7 square miles, including land not currently within City Limits. A 2008 Public Works land inventory indicated approximately 1,695 of vacant land that could be developed within the district. If built out at an average of 2.3 dwelling units per acre, the study estimated that another 3,900 households could be established within this portion of the community. 

For demographic purposes, the South District is coincident with Census tract 18. According to the 2012 American Community Survey (ACS), the population of the South District was 8,514 people and included 3,700 households. More than 28 percent of households included school-age children, and 966 children age 3 through 8th grade were enrolled in school. The ACS also indicated 4,056 total housing units with 57.3 percent being owner occupied; 46.7 percent housing units are detached single-family.

Links and resources

IC2030 Plan

South District Plan (adopted 2015)

South District map