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Freddy’s and Panera Bread comes to the Old Capitol Town Center, Office of Sustainability moves out

Chain restaurants Panera Bread and Freddy’s are coming to downtown early next year.

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Freddy’s and Panera Bread comes to the Old Capitol Town Center, Office of Sustainability moves out

Couples and friends sit, walk, and talk in the Old Capitol Mall in Iowa City, Iowa on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2017.

Couples and friends sit, walk, and talk in the Old Capitol Mall in Iowa City, Iowa on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2017.

Anthony Vazquez

Couples and friends sit, walk, and talk in the Old Capitol Mall in Iowa City, Iowa on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2017.

Anthony Vazquez

Anthony Vazquez

Couples and friends sit, walk, and talk in the Old Capitol Mall in Iowa City, Iowa on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2017.

Andy Mitchell, News Reporter

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The Old Capitol Town Center will see new additions next semester with two chain restaurants, Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers and Panera Bread, moving in.

Kevin Digmann, general manager of the Old Capitol Town Center, said the deals took around three to four months to negotiate.

Freddy’s will occupy the 3,000 square feet of office space where the University of Iowa Office of Sustainability used to reside.

Freddy’s is slated to open in February, with Panera to open next door later in the spring. The stores will be located on Clinton Street, and construction has already started, according to a press release issued by the Old Capitol Town Center.

“We’re pretty excited. Both are providing a niche,” Digmann said. “There really isn’t a fast-food burger joint downtown, and Freddy’s helps build that role.”

This will be the first Freddy’s in the Iowa City area, while another Panera Bread is located on the south side of the city on Sycamore Street.

“Panera will be a great tenant. Everyone knows who they are,” Digmann said. “It’ll be a great addition to the mall.”

Digmann said the businesses were attracted to the prospect of having outside access to pedestrians on Clinton Street and inside access to shoppers in the mall.

RELATED: New diner & cereal bar brings a fresh look on breakfast to downtown Iowa City

Ramya Kolusu, a UI student who lives near campus, said she’s excited for Panera as a student who does not eat meat.

“I think it’s always good to have more options within walking distance for students who don’t have cars,” Kolusu said.

The Office of Sustainability moved its location to the UI Communications Center on Madison Street. It will serve as an interim location through the spring semester.

Stratis Giannakouros, director of the Office of Sustainability, said the university has been trying to get more of its offices in campus buildings. As the lease for the office space in the Old Capitol Town Center was nearing its end, the university decided to move the Office of Sustainability, while Freddy’s picked up the lease.

“It’s worked out well for the office, because we’re still centrally located between the Main Library and the Seamans Center,” Giannakouros said. “That’s been a primary goal.”

Giannakouros said the interim office opened new opportunities for the spring semester, and the office is hiring a new program manager and group of interns.

He also said the Office of Sustainability is planning on starting labs to launch sustainability-themed events on campus. He said the space they were moved into on the third floor of the communications center is open and spacious enough for those ideas.

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