Downtown Cedar Rapids - Uplift, Uplighting and an Upgraded Look

Dec 16, 2021

Adding vibrancy to Downtown Cedar Rapids was central to the mission of both the Downtown Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District (SSMID) Commission and the Community Development function of the Economic Alliance in 2021. Many initiatives were launched this year to help achieve this mission and improve the appearance of downtown.

In June, a new brand and logo with a vibrant look and feel was rolled out for the district. Features of this project included new banners on Downtown light-poles, a welcome sign along the 4th Street trail that connects Downtown to the Cedar Lake area, and enticing interactive window coverings on vacant properties Downtown.

Adding new public art throughout the core of Cedar Rapids was also essential to the 2021 strategic plan. Three new pieces were added by the Downtown SSMID this year: a community spirit-inspired mural on the AdCraft building along 3rd Street, the “You Are Beautiful” installation on the DoubleTree on 1st Avenue, and a tribute to our local healthcare workers in the form of a collage on the backside of the former Gazette building. The City of Cedar Rapids’ Visual Arts Commission worked with local artists to also add two new murals along the river walk that connects Downtown to NewBo.

The addition of Alliant Energy’s new streetlights helped make Downtown brighter than ever. Alliant Energy was the pioneer and leader to use advanced technology to add programmable fixtures to light up their Downtown tower in spectacular fashion. Since 2018, several other properties including UFG have followed suit in helping light up the Downtown skyline. In 2021 three properties utilized the Downtown Façade Improvement Program to help offset their costs when installing similar exterior lighting: Securian Advisors, Cedar River Tower, and Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust.

Cedar Rapids Downtown District along with the MedQuarter Regional Medical District have been setting up holiday lights and installations for the 2021 season. This year there are several new, fun and festive holiday installations going up around the city. Holiday graphics will also be displayed using the newly installed projector on the Armstrong Center at 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue.

These last two years have brought much uncertainty and change to our city, members and community as a whole. However, we have taken this change and uncertainty and moved forward creating uplifting projects, events and energy in our Downtown. We plan to keep this momentum going strong into the 2022 year!

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