Ped Mall project designs revealed



People walk in the Pedestrian Mall on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. Planed changes to the area call for replacing the brick and adding additional decoration. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Big changes are coming to the Pedestrian Mall.

At a meeting on Thursday at the Sheraton Hotel, 210 S. Dubuque St., the completed designs for the renovation of the Ped Mall were presented. The plans include various changes: utilities, a community stage with canopy, story walls, and more.

The project is scheduled to begin construction in the spring of 2018 and be completed during the fall of 2019.

A large majority of the project will focus on upgrading the utilities necessary to keep the Ped Mall thriving.

“It’s needed to keep the Ped Mall vibrant and also to keep up with the needs of the Ped Mall,” senior civil engineer Scott Sovers said.

Water maintenance, electrical services, lighting receptacles, and power receptacles are going to be replaced. There will be new teleprompter services, enhanced storm-sewer systems, new water mains, landscaping, all new brick pavers, and more. Site furnishings in the Ped Mall, such as benches, will also be replaced.

“Certainly, long term, the upgrading of the utilities will better serve the businesses and the residents that are in the area,” City Manager Geoff Fruin said. “It will help us with some of our special-event programming.”

Fruin said the expanded electrical capacity would help with special events downtown.

“Particularly when we expand electrical capacity, we can do a lot more special-event wise in the Ped Mall and a lot more with accent lighting and holiday lighting that we’re not able to do right now,” Fruin said.

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Sovers said two large limestone story walls will be set up to celebrate the history of Iowa City.

One will be located at the Black Hawk Mini Park and the other at the west entry of Clinton Street. The story wall near Clinton Street will feature the poem “Writers in a Cafe,” by longtime Writers’ Workshop teacher and renowned poet Marvin Bell.

“This poem was written on the eve of Iowa City’s 2008 bid to become an UNESCO City of Literature,” architect Angie Coyer said. “It’ll be a great reminder when new guests come to Iowa City.”

Coyer said the other story wall will include a timeline featuring Iowa City residents who have shaped the town.

A permanent shade structure will be constructed at Black Hawk Mini Park with a story panel on the side. The panel will be removable and feature various historical stories, such as the history of the Mini Park. Shaded seating and accent lighting will also add to the park’s environment.

“Our goal to create a very open and flexible design that will support a varied and diverse program for Summer of the Arts, Iowa City Downtown District, and the Public Library events,” Coyer said. “We want to create a welcoming and comfortable space that’s comfortable into the evening hours so people feel safe … using Black Hawk Mini Park at night.”

Fruin said another main focus area of the Ped Mall project will be the construction of a community stage in front of the Sheraton Hotel, complete with a canopy to give the stage more prominence.

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