Ped Mall to see new stores


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One corridor of the Pedestrian Mall is turning over four storefronts before students arrive back in town for the fall semester.

The old location of Buzz Salon, which has now crossed the mall to occupy the bottom floors of the new Park@201 high-rise, will become new contemporary fashion boutique Sicily.

“I’m excited to bring something new into town,” said Neda Shirazi, the owner of the incoming clothing store. “I’m trying to do something different from other boutiques with brands and styles.”

Buzz Salon was housed in the location, 115 S. Dubuque St., beginning in 1997.

Shirazi said the new business is going to bring in more European-type items, focusing mostly on women’s fashion.

She originally hoped to open her doors on Aug. 1, but Shirazi said she has hit delays with contractors. Now, she is preparing to unveil the business before the end of the month.

“[Sicily] will be a boutique with more diverse space,” said Nancy Bird, the executive director of the Iowa City Downtown District. “It’s for people outside of the region and country. It speaks to the demand.”

The Dubuque Street section of the Ped Mall will also feature a new pizza and arcade venue in the former Tobacco Bowl as well as a new storefront in the current Cheap & Chic, Bird said.

“Tastes and preferences have changed in 20 years,” said Catherine Champion, the owner of Catherine’s Boutique and Cheap & Chic. “It’s hard to expect things not to change.”

She said the final liquidation of Cheap & Chic will occur Aug. 17. The store has occupied the space since 2009.

A new men’s and women’s clothing store, French Connections, will hold its soft opening on Aug. 22, Champion said. The turnover has begun, and the hard opening date will be either Aug. 25 or 26.

The owner is also exploring the option of splitting the upcoming French Connections into two different stores.

“It’s always fun to change businesses,” Champion said.

Bird said the new storefronts will bring an adapted market to the Ped Mall, which has traditionally has had the most foot traffic.

“This is our primary asset,” she said. “We have the most walk-able neighborhood in the state of Iowa.”

On Sept. 26, Champion said, the owners of the new businesses in the Ped Mall will hold a joint grand-opening event.

It will feature Buzz, Forbidden Planet, French Connections, and Sicily Boutique, she said.

Sicily’s main priority at this point, Shirazi said, is to get the remodeling finished.

“I’m excited for the reception,” she said. “I’m kind of trying to bring New York City to Iowa City.”

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