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Downtown District cleaning up alleys with ambitions for more

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) – The Iowa City Downtown District is renovating alleyways throughout the city, trying to decrease crime and increase business.

“There’s a lot of reasons to look at the alleys,” Downtown District Director Nancy Bird said. “Safety, and public art is really good at bringing more eyes to those areas.”

The district hosted their annual “State of the Downtown” meeting Wednesday afternoon, in a new, colorful back entrance to Discerned Eye optical boutique. The business’ owner said she’s already noticed a difference.

“You would never have come in through the back before this,” Joni Schrup said. “I feel like people respect your property and if it looks messy, and it looks trashy, they treat it that way. So, I think this is a good first step for sure.”

The District represents 150 property owners and businesses in the city, working closely with the city to advocate for them and their interests.

As a nonprofit, they can only work on projects of a certain size. But they hope their work sprucing up these alleys may inspire bigger projects.

“We’re hoping that highlighting some of the alleys, and getting them started from the private sector, will help us have that dialogue with the city to say, ‘Let’s look at resurfacing some of these areas,'”Bird said.

Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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