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Uptown assessment brings business owners together

The first of two informational meetings to form a committee to implement ideas from the uptown assessment was held Tuesday

From left, Mike Taylor, Austin Smith and Bob Berning discuss the plans for Uptown Creston after the meeting Tuesday at the UCDA building.
From left, Mike Taylor, Austin Smith and Bob Berning discuss the plans for Uptown Creston after the meeting Tuesday at the UCDA building.

Parking or parks? That was a topic of discussion on what to do with the space left over from a building recently demolished in Uptown Creston during a meeting Tuesday at the Union County Development Association.

Uptown Creston business owners, property owners, residents and interested parties gathered Tuesday to begin the process of implementing the recommendations of the Uptown Assessment recently completed for the city by the Iowa Economic Development Authority. The entire assessment is available on both the City of Creston’s and the UCDA’s website.

City administrator Mike Taylor said the plan for that space at the moment is to remain non-committed, bringing in dirt and seed rather than developing a space that might change as the needs of Uptown Creston are determined.

“We just haven’t been sitting on it, there’s been a lot of discussions,” Taylor said.

Property owner and investor Bob Berning spoke of the need for more uptown parking, saying there would be space for for both greenery and parking in that lot.

Stu Burzette refuted the idea that there is not enough parking saying there are more than 1,000 parking spaces uptown.

“Right now we’re going with the grass just so it will be usable space until we decide which way to go with it,” Mayor Gabe Carroll said.

The assessment recommended more greenery, adding parklets and shade trees to make walking uptown more inviting and lighting to make it safer.

That will be one focus of the committee that will be formed from this process. UCDA’s Discover UC has been tasked by the city to spearhead the project. The current Update Uptown committee, an off-shoot of Discover UC, will shift from working on the yearly event to a being a task force to implement the vision put forth in the uptown assessment.

Although the assessment looked at the first two blocks of Maple Street north of the Creston Restored Depot as the focal point for uptown revitalization, the committee, under the advisement of Creston:Arts, narrowed that to the 100 block of North Maple Street and combined it with on-going efforts on West Adams and the 100 block of North Elm Street.

“Our goal is to build off of the street mural to start to define what we’re calling the ‘creative corridor’ so it makes sense to start where there is the most traffic and then build as store fronts get filled,” Mindy Stalker of the UCDA said.

Eventually, the project will spread through more of uptown Stalker said, but that area is not yet defined.

“The goal is to focus on the corridors coming into uptown,” she said.

Tuesday’s meeting focused on the projects that are already in the works such as the facade project, the alley renovation project and the Update Uptown event scheduled for April. The facade and alley projects are designed to make Uptown Creston safer and more attractive. The Update Uptown event aims to bring traffic to the uptown area and highlight the attractions that already exist, the projects being done and the future plans for the area.

Attendees were invited to add their names to committees to focus on each of three areas: marketing; green space and mixed use development; and entertainment, events and promotions. Once the information has been compiled those who signed up will be contacted to get started on making Uptown Creston a more inviting and vibrant place to live, work, shop and do business.

A second meeting will be held noon Feb. 18 at The UCDA’s Building 301, 301 W. Montgomery for those who were unable to attend this week.

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