Filling windows in empty Cedar Rapids buildings with art - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Filling windows in empty Cedar Rapids buildings with art

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

The Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance is working on an arts and crafts project.

They're killing two birds with one stone---spreading holiday cheer and filling windows of empty downtown buildings.

"We didn't want to see anymore vacant windows downtown," said Lindsey Umgs, Art in Downtown Spaces Chair.  "We want to draw people to downtown. I love our downtown and I want people to enjoy it as they're walking by."

"Seeing some of the street level vacant windows, we wanted the downtown, when you're walking downtown, to be a wonderful experience for folks," said Sarika Bhakta, District Improvement Specialist.

The group sees the art as an opportunity.  It's a way to send a message to others about the city. In addition to artwork, there's posters that show why businesses should open in cedar rapids. They've finished all the poster hanging, and now there's art in eight different downtown buildings.  Each space has sat empty since the flood.

"We hope that by making things a little cheerier, people will get excited about occupying the spaces that aren't occupied and send the signal that the downtown is back," said Scott Olson, City Councilman.  "It's better than ever. And it's getting better with all the new things happening."

It seems to be working.  Some of the vacant buildings are under renovation and others have tenants lined up.

The artwork is original and was created by Russ Fagle and the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy.  Adcraft Printing Company made all the posters free of charge.

The posters are holiday themed and the Metro Economic Alliance is looking at ways to enhance the downtown after the holidays are over. 

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