Iowa City officials and business owners eager to start ped mall renovations

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- A busy area of downtown Iowa City could look very different in the coming years.

The city is working to improve the Pedestrian Mall and it wants to hear what people think about the designs. The city hopes to improve the look and feel of the ped mall. That includes putting in new lighting, plants, and other accents. The improvements are part of a bigger downtown construction project. A civil official said the upgrade is long overdue.

"We're truly excited about it. We're excited to have this public meeting to get the word out on here's what we're planning to do and get everyone else excited about it as well" said Scott Sovers, the senior civil engineer for Iowa City.

The long list of work is due to start next spring and run into 2019.

"New trash receptacles, new benches, new shade structures, some new planters with additional trees and some upgraded utilities" said Sovers.

Local business owners said the project is well worth the six and a half million dollar cost.

"The ped mall has not received much attention lately and it shows. The bricks are torn up, the planters are not in the best shape, some of the stone is coming apart on the planters" said Thomas Connolly, a co-partner of Buzz Salon.

"This is where people come. We are a cultural center of the state and the ped mall is the heart of that" said Ritu Jain, the owner of Textiles.

Jain has worked here for 25 years and said she's glad the city is involving the people in the process. She said it's important to keep up appearances.

"We have so many loyal customers that come downtown and we always want to provide them with the best so I think improvements are always needed so we're all excited about it" said Jain.

"Keeping it looking good, keeping it attractive, keeping it accessible and I think it's a critical part of maintaining Iowa City's presence as a downtown kind of city" said Connolly.

The open house meeting is Friday the 28th at the downtown Sheraton from 5:30 to 7:30 P.M. For more information about the project visit https://www.icgov.org/project/downtown-and-pedestrian-mall-streetscape-plan