to Nicholas Johnson's Coralville Rain Forest Web Site
Des Moines Register
November 10, 2005
[Note: This material is copyright by the Des Moines Register, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Des Moines Register.]
January 1997: Des Moines leaders, led by Townsend, propose an educational center on 25 acres on the southwest edge of downtown Des Moines that would include the world's largest simulated rainforest. A 10-acre, 20-story-tall dome would contain the forest, an elementary school and an aquarium. Included in the project would be a large-screen Omnimax theater, a science center, a 600-room hotel, an office building and other education facilities. The cost is estimated at $330 million. Dubbed the Iowa CHILD Campus (using an acronym for Center for Health in a Loving Democracy), the facility could attract 1.4 million visitors a year, a consultant says.
January 1999: After a lukewarm reception in Des Moines, Iowa Child organizers take their idea to Cedar Rapids for a $280 million rainforest/aquarium project.
December 2000: Coralville bids for the $280 million project, and Cedar Rapids backs away.
September 2001: Project cut to $225 million.
2003: U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Ia., secures $50 million grant for the project, which is trimmed to $180 million.
December 2004: Project leaders say they will break ground in 2005.
2005: Project leaders get in battle with Coralville over land transfer. Design work continues.
Wednesday [November 9 2005]: Grassley wins congressional approval of a ban on the project using any more of the grant money until the $50 million is matched with private cash or in-kind services. Bill gives the project two years to raise the match or the grant or lose it.