As we celebrate the opening of Elevate condos in Coralville, Iowa and officially welcome our residents home, we can’t help but reflect on the planning, dedication, and hard work it took to get here.
It goes without saying that a project of this magnitude doesn’t spring up overnight. While we broke ground on the $50 million development in 2020 and the name “Elevate” was chosen in 2021, the idea for Elevate was born several years before either of those events took place.
In fact, our story actually begins back in 2017 with several key partners and a lofty vision—in a very literal sense.
Around this time, Mike Evans, President and Founder of Grand Rail Development, along with Jake, Jesse, and Kenzie Evans of Grand Rail, were working with a local real estate group, The Bails Team at Urban Acres Real Estate, on a subdivision in Coralville called Bridgewater. Located just off 1st Avenue north of Interstate-80 and Iowa River Landing, this neighborhood is perfectly situated near the Corridor’s best amenities and necessities, making it a prime place for new construction homes.
While mapping out the subdivision and building the first few homes, long-time Coralville City Administrator Kelly Hayworth approached Evans with a thought. Iowa City and Cedar Rapids were home to several residential high-rise buildings. Why not Coralville?
The Evanses and Mike Bails (REALTOR® and founding member of The Bails Team) agreed that it was time for Coralville to get a signature, monument-type building of its own—and they knew they could make it happen.
The Land: Acres of Opportunity
The Evanses, Bails, and Hayworth also knew the key to this statement condo building lay in its height. That’s why they were so drawn to the Bridgewater area and the natural elements that already existed on the land. On the eastern side of the neighborhood sat a 20-acre piece of land, raised on a hill overlooking the rest of the subdivision. The best part? It also bordered the subdivision’s only pond.
The partners knew it was a one-of-a-kind parcel of land with amazing possibilities. In 2018, Evans and Bails officially purchased the 20 acres with the intent of building high-rise condos on the hilltop.
“There’s nothing else like it,” said Bails. “There’s no other piece of land around here where you can back up to a pond like that and that has all kinds of mature trees already. You can’t find that anywhere.”
Because of its location, the building would also be visible from Interstate-80—another bonus for the city and for future residents who commute.
The Design: Architectural Innovation
With the land secured, the partners began working with a local firm, OPN Architects, to translate their vision onto paper. While the original intent was to create a 10-story development, the designs didn’t play out the way the partners had envisioned.
“Because we had so much land over there, we thought ‘Instead of going up, why don’t we stretch it out?’” said Bails.
The result: three rectangular buildings, each with seven stories—two levels of underground parking and five levels for housing and amenities.
OPN revised the designs, moving them from paper to a state-of-art, immersive architecture digital model. The model was then used as the foundation for a new website to help potential buyers and leasers get an accurate feel for what living at Elevate would be like.
“We wanted to elevate the website experience itself,” Bails said. “We wanted it all to be next level—not just the real building, but the architectural model, too.”
The Amenities: Every Convenience at Elevate
Our partners knew right away that they wanted Elevate to be more than just condos. When traveling and researching other high-end condos in midwestern cities such as Chicago, Omaha, and Minneapolis, they noticed a trend often referred to as “vertical neighborhoods.” These large, high-rise condo complexes had an abundance of upscale amenities in the building: coffee, beer, golf simulators, coworking spaces—everything their residents could want or need to live, work, and play while leading an active lifestyle surrounded by other professionals.
They also had “backyards”—expansive outdoor spaces with fire pits, grills, and walking paths to offer fresh air and outdoor recreation. In more crowded cities, many of these backyards weren’t in the backyard at all, but rather located on a large patio or on the rooftop—a coveted splash of green in a sea of steel and concrete.
The Evanses and Bails noticed this “vertical neighborhood” trend growing in the Iowa City area, too, but it seemed to be confined to newer student housing developments. This concept hadn’t yet been translated into housing communities for young professionals in the area. The partners knew that Elevate was the perfect opportunity to extend those same fun and functional amenities to non-students in the Corridor as well.
Thus, our amenities were strategically chosen with this vertical neighborhood concept in mind to ensure we were catering to our residents’ every convenience, no matter their lifestyle. Food? Drinks? A place to relax and unwind? A place to entertain friends? A place to be productive? A place to work up a sweat? A place to get some fresh air? Check, check, and check.
“The dock, walking trails, fitness room, and more combine to make this an outstanding place to live and play,” said Hayworth.
To our partners, it was all about creating a place to call home that was both high-end and low-maintenance—the best of both worlds for residents.
”It’s for professionals who commute, remote workers who want a walkable and bikeable life, or those who enjoy being close to the golf course and having direct access to natural surroundings in their backyard,” said Jake Evans, CFO at Grand Rail and son of Founder Mike Evans.
The Details: Specifics Start to Take Shape
With the amenities in motion, the next important question facing Grand Rail and the Bails Team were the condos themselves. How many condos would be for lease, how many would be listed for sale, and how many would be penthouses?
Brotherton Investments, a Corridor-based property management team and the third major partner in this project, entered the picture to help answer these questions and many others.
The Brotherton team is led by Owner Angie Brotherton Bails, who also spearheads Elevate’s interior design. She has made hundreds of detailed decisions over the course of the last few years on our first building. Her design choices big and small—from the statement chandeliers in the lobby to the kitchen drawer pulls in each condo—have made Elevate what it is today.
Wendi Hayden, the Brotherton Office Manager, became the firepower behind the leasing program. As the planning evolved, Brotherton recognized the value of relocating their offices to Elevate so they could provide convenient, on-site management and customer service.
What’s in a Name
With the major details locked down, it was time to dig into an important facet of the project: the name. Meld Marketing worked with the team to find a name and tagline that would highlight the development’s distinctions. The name Elevate and the tagline “Next-Level Living” emerged.
“This building was going to transform the Coralville skyline and the Corridor living experience,” said Melinda Pradarelli, CEO and Founder of Elevate’s marketing partner, Meld Marketing. “We needed a name and tagline that would reflect that. For us, it was important to create a brand identity that showed the modern living and innovation, but also reflected the fact that there are many everyday comforts built in.”
Our Story is Just Beginning
Elevate has been almost 5 years in the making, but we’re only just getting started. Building 2 and 3 will add more than 100 units as we continue taking condo living in the Corridor to the next level.