Muscatine undergoes downtown assessment

MUSCATINE, Iowa – This river city is undergoing a downtown assessment this week with a series of tours and meetings. The goal is to offer recommendations for improvements to the downtown area.

A public meeting is set for noon on Thursday, May 5, at Musser Public Library to discuss the assessment and possible development plans. 

During the week, downtown revitalization specialists from the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s (IEDA) Downtown Resource Center will tour the city and meet with residents, community groups and business owners. 

“The assessment visit is a great way for a community to take a step back and get honest feedback from a qualified group of downtown professionals,” Jim Engle, director of the Iowa Downtown Resource Center, said in a news release. “The five-person team will highlight the downtown’s strengths and challenges, and will offer some practical recommendations that the community can implement over time.” 

The city and the Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce and Industry have teamed up to coordinate the downtown assessment. The assessment is an intense, on-site study of the downtown, including a public presentation at the end of the visit and a written report that will help the planning efforts of the City of Muscatine.

Muscatine’s assessment team consists of:

  • Carol Lilly, downtown development specialist, Iowa Downtown Resource Center, IEDA
  • Jim Thompson, downtown economic development specialist, Iowa Downtown Resource Center, IEDA
  • Jeff Geerts, special projects manager, IEDA
  • Tim Reinders, design consultant
  • Dennis Reynolds, Reynolds Design

All five of the IEDA downtown revitalization specialists have worked extensively in all sizes of communities in the Midwest with an emphasis on downtown development. Many Iowa communities have taken advantage of this service and then went on to execute successful plans and projects. Issues such as downtown aesthetics, business mix and development, organizational refinement, promotion calendars, and building rehabilitation are common themes for the downtown assessment visits.

The service began earlier this month with a short pre-visit, and an on-line survey completed by more than 200 residents.  

“The visit is always most successful when we have excellent community input,” Mr. Engle said. “We encourage Muscatine residents to get involved with the visit in some way. Meet with the assessment team. Attend the public meeting. We encourage you to think about your downtown and come ready to participate.”

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