The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Local businesses confident in Ped Mall construction

Nick Rohlman
People walk in the Iowa City Pedestrian Mall on Thursday, April 26, 2018. Iowa City has released plans for renovations and updates to the area. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

The impending Pedestrian Mall reconstruction looms over the heads of the Iowa City business community as the weather warms up. As previously reported by *The Daily Iowan*, the reconstruction of the Ped Mall is projected to cost $7.4 million.

The project will take two seasons starting April 30 and ending Oct. 31, 2019. In its course, bricks will be torn up and replaced, utilities will be upgraded, and the whole area will be refaced.

George Etre, the owner of Iowa Chop House, Formosa, Takanami, and El Patrón, said he coped with the construction from the Washington Streetscape Project last year and now will face reconstruction on College Street.

“It was extremely challenging to maintain business,” Etre said. “We know business will slow down because it will be hard for customers to find us. Our only option is to make the best of it.”

Mike Draper, the owner and founder of RAYGUN, said construction and business do not always correlate.

“Traffic [at a business] can be up or down sometimes for no discernible reason,” he said. “The project is being done in phases, so I think its impact will be fairly limited.”

RELATED: Ped Mall Updates soon to come

The first leg of work will be on Dubuque Street for 2018, and the reconstruction in 2019 will be on College Street.

FilmScene Executive Director Joe Tiefenthaler said he is positive about the renovation and confident in the city.

“I think we will lose some patrons, but our patrons are already used to not having street-front parking,” Tiefenthaler said. “I am confident in what the city is doing for signage … and I am confident in our patrons.”

However, the project will be different from most projects around town. During the summer, Iowa City will be an overnight stop for RAGBRAI and also host the Downtown Block Party. The project will halt on those nights.

In a study done by the University of Northern Iowa in 2008, which calculated and analyzed effects of overnight RAGBRAI stops, found that they generate $25 million. With eight overnight stops, each one brings in about $3 million.

All the businesses interviewed said they are excited about RAGBRAI coming through, and they anticipate a hike in sales.

Another event downtown businesses and Iowa City people look forward to is the Downtown Block Party. The Downtown District said last year’s Block Party brought in 30,000 people — more than double than what officials had expected.

Other events, such as the Iowa Arts Festival and the Iowa City Jazz Festival, will hopefully bring business to one of the nation’s only pedestrian malls. During reconstruction, the Downtown District will try to beautify the construction areas through community and local art, outdoor activities, and live music.

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