New Weatherproofing Concept For The ICDD

The new weatherproofing concept for the downtown district is meant to help local businesses emerging from lockdown.

Kyden Hotka, Reporter

When COVID-19 struck in March of 2020, attendance to the Iowa City Downtown District (ICDD) had decreased from roughly 170,000 people per week down to nearly 10,000 people weekly. Since then, weekly attendance has slowly been climbing back to normal, but the financial damage that has been done to the businesses is far from being fixed. 

In a recent report from KCRG, “Of the downtown district’s 116 “Food and Beverage” businesses, about 8% have closed over the past year, and about 10% sold to new owners. The district says the total closure rates for retail and restaurants is about 25%.” These statistics are not a good sign for our local economy, but luckily the Downtown district has crafted a new way to combat lackluster consumer participation.

In the Downtown COVID-19 Relief Plan briefing from the ICDD, the district is asking the city of Iowa City to build a year-round downtown environment so that businesses can offer better services in the winter months and the strengthening of the community.

Code changes to allow open eating in the ped-mall and year round sidewalk/street cafes’ are of the many being proposed with a specific change being examined for a re-imagination of Dubuque St. to create a stronger downtown economy in the winter. Construction in 2022 for new ambient street lighting, expansion of sidewalks for community activities, and outdoor heating is what is being asked of the City of Iowa City to help strengthen the downtown district’s economy in a post-pandemic world.

           The Iowa City community and local business owners are looking forward to the possibility of experiencing a winter friendly Downtown to help our local business owners in times of need and to enjoy their services in non-ideal conditions. 

Weatherproofing isn’t a complete solution for reviving the downtown district. The ICDD hopes to also give $15,000 in new business start-up grants to incentivize entrepreneurs to start a business in less than ideal economic circumstances to accelerate the district’s financial recovery.