Council Bluffs announces Phase Four plans for River's Edge development

(Council Bluffs, IA) -- The City of Council Bluffs has announced plans for Phase Four of the River's Edge development.

City leaders say future plans for the Council Bluffs riverfront include a treetop walk, an observation tower, an adventure course and a pier. "Residents can expect to see changes happening this spring at River's Edge as we begin Phase Four of our riverfront revitalization," said Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh. “Ten years ago the riverfront was a wooded and underutilized area. Today we have award-winning public spaces, trail connections, commercial development, and the progress will continue.”

Development on the Council Bluffs riverfront began in 2007, with Tom Hanafan River's Edge Park opening in 2013. The city says Phase Four begins this spring with 90 acres of woodland restoration north of Tom Hanafan Park. Cleanup starts with removing flood and woodland debris from the area. Then, hiking trails will be established through the forest floor.

The city says the treetop walk will bring an elevated experience to River's Edge. Conceptual renderings illustrate 2,480 linear feet of treetop walk through the woodland area and a connection to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. The project team will begin designing the treetop walk this spring, and construction is slated for November 2021 – September 2022.

A 130' observation tower and a climbing adventure course are planned for 2022-2023. The observation tower takes visitors above the trees, providing river, woodland and city views. The climbing adventure course features a 50' climbing wall, ropes course, zip line, caving and roll gliding. A pier that takes visitors beyond the water’s edge is intended for 2024.

Phase Four is funded entirely by private donations. The estimated budget is $50 million, and the Iowa West Foundation has provided the lead gift of $15 million disbursed over five years. The city says SINC is securing additional donors through specific fundraising efforts. Tax increases are not part of the funding plan. "The joint effort to revitalize the Council Bluffs riverfront is nothing short of amazing," said Mayor Matt Walsh. "River's Edge continues to be a prime example of a successful public/ private partnership. We are grateful to our partners in the private sector for their commitment to improving Council Bluffs."

City leaders say the design team has mitigated the potential for flooding within their recommended concepts. All of the proposed structures will be designed to withstand the force of floodwaters and the structurers will be built above the flood zone, at the levee system's elevation. “The lookout pier, treetop walk, and first level of the observation tower will be located above the top of the levee. As such, all of the improvements will remain open during high river events,” said Chris Koenig, Senior Project Manager for HDR. “All of the improvements will be supported by piles driven to bedrock and designed for flood conditions including the potential impacts from ice.”

The city says invasive trees and plant material detrimental to shoreline stability and ecology will be removed from River's Edge. They say the design team works closely with specialists to ensure the plant material is compatible with flooding conditions and will thrive with the river fluctuations. All proposed trees and vegetation shall consist of native species that intend to restore the riverfront's ecosystem.

Conceptual renderings and additional information can be found on the City of Council Bluffs website at

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