Note: The property at 302 E. Bloomington St., will be a discussion item at the Oct. 12, 2023, Iowa City Historic Preservation Commission meeting at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall. The public is invited to address the commission during the meeting.
By Cindy Hadish/Homegrown Iowan
IOWA CITY, Iowa — A sales listing of the building that has housed Pagliai’s Pizza for the last half-century has raised red flags about a potential demolition.
Built in 1875 and used as a grocery store before the popular restaurant opened there in the 1970s, the brick building, including 16 apartments and neighboring laundromat, at 302 E. Bloomington St., have hit the market for a cool $5 million.
“NOT listed on Historic Register,” the Zillow listing notes. “PERFECT site for future development.”
That characterization of the property has raised concern among preservation advocates, who worry the buildings could be demolished to make way for a housing development.
Ornate corbels and dentil moulding are among original features on the 1875 brick building that houses Pagliai’s Pizza. (photo/Cindy Hadish)
Owned by Gary Skarda, the property has an assessed value of $1.5 million. Skarda could not be reached for comment.
The Pagliai family noted that they have a long-term lease and the restaurant will not be closing. The laundromat also leases its building and will remain open.
Sixteen apartments are included in the Zillow sales listing of the property at 302 E. Bloomington St., in Iowa City, Iowa . (photo/Cindy Hadish)
Still, if the nearly half-acre property is sold, there are currently no protections to prevent the buildings from being demolished.
“Why is this NOT on the historic registry!!?? Come on Iowa City !! Buyer can tear down and put in condos!” one person on an Iowa City Facebook page commented.
“Future development = demolition,” another wrote.
Jordan Sellergren, chairwoman of the Iowa City Historic Preservation Commission, said the property will be discussed during the group’s Oct. 12 meeting, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.
Sellergren noted that the laundromat building was the original stables on the property. The building housing Pagliai’s Pizza was originally a grocery store, with a hotel behind it.
The issue will likely be formally on the commission’s Nov. 9 meeting as a potential local landmark, she said.
Local landmarks, which offer protection from demolition, are allowed in Iowa City without the owner’s consent, but the process requires a super-majority of the City Council for approval, or six of seven members.