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

Dubuque Street businesses, restaurants affected by road reconstruction

Dubuque Street storefronts have experienced effects such as increased dust and noise from the construction project in its first two weeks but have not seen a major decline of business.
Ethan McLaughlin
A construction site is seen on Dubuque St. on Sunday, March 24, 2024.

Downtown Iowa City storefronts on Dubuque Street are experiencing noise, rumbling, increased dust, and a water shutdown but have not noticed a major decline in sales during the first two weeks of a more than six-month-long construction project.

The $3.75 million reconstruction of Dubuque Street started on March 11 and will replace water main and sewer systems and improve the street and sidewalks, landscape, lighting, and parking meters. The construction project is anticipated to be completed by late summer or early fall 2024, according to the city’s website.

The city has put signs up on the fences around the construction indicating the direction of Dubuque Street shops and restaurants to emphasize they are open for business.

The city has been in consistent communication with businesses and updating them weekly via email, Kara Schares, an employee at Catherine’s Boutique, located at 7 S. Dubuque St., said.

“It’s been dusty, it’s noisy, but it’s just what it is. It has to get done,” Schares said.

The only effect on business Schares noted is the street closure in front of the store, but the city has helped by providing coupons for free parking in the nearby parking ramp.

Iowa City is offering free delivery services on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for downtown retailers in Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, Tiffin, Solon, and West Branch, according to the Iowa City Downtown District’s website,

CHOMP, a food delivery service, has also provided a discount code for free delivery from restaurants on Dubuque Street during the months of construction, according to the website.

RELATEDPortion of Dubuque Street to be entirely reconstructed next spring

Jacob Nelson, the owner of Z’Mariks Noodle Cafe at 19 S. Dubuque St., said in-store business has been slower since construction started, but the downtown district is doing what it can to ensure sales aren’t affected too much.

“They’re trying to do some marketing on social media for us,” Nelson said. “They put up signs outside, but I think they’ve done just about everything that they’re capable of doing.

Nelson said there was a gas line hit last week which required some businesses to evacuate, although Z’Mariks was not affected. He added the water was turned off on March 25 for about an hour and a half.

“When they redo the vault outside the gate that goes into our basement, I know that we’re going to have to close for a few days for that,” Nelson said.

Iowa City City Manager Geoff Fruin said the gas line that was hit was not anticipated to happen, and some businesses evacuated.

“In tight urban areas it’s not uncommon,” Fruin said. “There’s protocols in place from the contractor standpoint to mitigate that quickly. In that case, those plans were executed and the situation was mitigated as best as could be.”

Aside from the unexpected disruptions, General Manager Brieanna Hastings of Micky’s Irish Pub, located at 11 S. Dubuque St., said the restaurant’s main concerns have been noise and rumbling as well as keeping the tables clean of dust.

“We were worried it was going to affect business but honestly, we’ve been pretty busy throughout this last two weeks,” Hastings said. “It’s still early, so it’s kind of hard to tell what the summer is going to bring with no patio as well.”

Hastings had no comment on last week’s complication or the water shutdown yesterday.

Fruin said city officials are making sure they set up a weekly time that business owners can meet with the Dubuque Street project leads to get updates.

“If we know a business may open up at 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. in the morning, we’d want to schedule that work first thing in the morning, and hopefully get all services restored by the time they’re welcoming in their customers for that day,” Fruin said.

Working closely with businesses will become even more important when the project eventually turns its focus to the sidewalks and storefront entryways after the road work is finished, Fruin said. He said minimizing disruption is very important to a project like this one.

“It’s really important for the community to recognize that these businesses are going through a difficult time with this project,” Fruin said. “Of course, the end result we think will be great long term, but in the short term, we certainly encourage the community to make the extra effort to stop in and support the businesses that are impacted by this construction project.”

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