Northside Marketplace gets lights


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The North Side Marketplace will have a new glow about it come this fall.

Nancy Bird, the executive director of the Iowa City Downtown District, said the organization is working in partnership with local property owners to implement a new lighting concept in the North Side Marketplace.

Bird said that the Downtown District has $62,500 set aside for the lighting project, $30,000 of which came from a matching grant from Iowa City.

Bird also said that the Downtown District was able to raise several private donations for the project, including a $10,000 donation from River Products Co. Inc. and $2,500 from the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

To get the project completed, the district is collaborating with 17 property owners on the North Side. Bird said that when she began the project, she assumed there would be some opt-outs, but was surprised when there was a 100 percent consensus.

“[The property owners] have all have signed on to have the lighting installed by the Downtown District in exchange for supporting the maintenance and operation for the next 10 years,” Bird said.

This is not anticipated to be much of a burden, Bird said, because the lights will be extremely efficient LEDs and the operating costs per owner are estimated to be around $10 a year for every 50 feet.

Bird said the design of the lighting is very simple.

“It’s one line of lighting just above the first story of all the properties,” she said.

Once completed, the project will serve as a solution to several different issues, including bringing the district together as a whole.

“Ambient lighting in the North Side would help make some of those properties pop, give it a more distinct commercial feel, like it’s a neighborhood,” Bird said.

Oasis co-owner Ofer Sivan is excited about the project.

“I think it will look pretty cool and will help people get over here from Clinton,” he said.

Directing foot and car traffic into the district is another issue Bird believes the lights will solve.

“It is important to highlight this neighborhood because often students don’t really know about it,” she said. “Separated from the downtown by university facilities, it’s a hidden gem we’d like to better reveal to students and faculty.”

Jill Kinkade of Devotay is also interested in what the final design will be like, but she is worried that over time, the lights will not be maintained and will eventually lose their pristine look.

The project was created when in 2013, Iowa City’s streetscape update analyzed the aging downtown infrastructure and drew up possible plans for improvement and renovation.

“As they were developing ideas and projects for the whole area, one of the projects that they highlighted in the plan was a North Side Marketplace District lighting concept,” Bird said.

Although the lights will not cover the entire North Side, they will span the entirety of the intersections of Linn and Market Streets and Market and Gilbert Streets.

The project was initially set for completion in time for Oktoberfest on Sept. 27, but because of manufacturer delays, it is now anticipated to be completed by November.

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