Pedestrian Mall renovation underway - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Pedestrian Mall renovation underway

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A massive construction has begun for half of the Iowa City pedestrian mall.

The $6.8 million dollar facelift will bring a lot of changes to the area but largely it focuses on improving utilities underground and replacing the clay bricks which the city says is becoming a safety issue.

As with all major construction projects, growing pains are a given but the Iowa City Downtown District said they have plans to offset the disruption.

"Supporting our businesses is obviously our number one," Betsy Potter, the ICDD Director of Operations, said.

Potter said the goal is that no one changes their habits throughout the construction.

"Just because there might be some fencing and some construction work. It doesn't mean you need to stop going to where you normally like to eat lunch," she said.

One way ICDD is trying to offset the construction pains is by putting up a number of directional signs to keep people comfortable walking through the fenced off areas.

During the construction, all businesses will be able to stay open, Potter said. She also said all future summer events are still planning to go on.

"None of the programming is going away. I think that's another big message we're trying to get out there. Nothing is being canceled. Nothing is being delayed. All the programming is still happening," she said.

They also said they have plans to bring back two of the pop-up shops for entertainment to make up for the areas now under-construction.

"One of them will have a game library in it. It will be open every single day. One will have a ping-pong table on it, giant Jenga," Potter said. "So that they're just places for people to hang out."

She said a porch feature will be added that can also be used for live music. Another element ICDD will bring to the area, art projects in the alleyways which are away from the construction.

"[It's] to encourage people to use them as pedestrian accessways so there will be a couple art elements that will be really fun and interactive," she said.

Three late-night food stands will be displaced by the construction. The city is currently working out new locations for them, according to a city council agenda memo.

The first phase along the Dubuque Street portion of the ped mall construction is expected to continue until the fall before work continues next year on the remaining areas.


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