Downtown Cedar Rapids is full of life! This district features a variety of dining and shopping options, a vibrant arts and culture community, and exciting nightlife. The Economic Alliance works with area businesses and non-profits to support the creation of a beautiful, sustainable downtown area for all ages, so wet your whistle, fill your belly at one of the many unique, locally-owned restaurants, bars, and hot spots, and enjoy some entertainment in the greater Cedar Rapids community.


Happy Holidays from All of Us!

Downtown and MedQuarter Regional Medical District Holiday Attractions MapSpectacular New Holiday Lights Welcome Visitors to Cedar Rapids

Holiday cheer is pushing the limits in Cedar Rapids this festive season with new lights and decorations lining 1st Avenue from 10th Street to 1st Street SE. Visitors will be welcomed by striking signature displays throughout the Downtown and MedQuarter Regional Medical Districts including a giant ornament display near the Central Fire Station in the MedQuarter, a new bulb feature directly in front of the DoubleTree Hotel, new wreaths adorning the skywalks, and a four-story-high projector mural with holiday music at the Armstrong Center at 3rd Street & 3rd Avenue downtown.

“Anyone visiting Downtown or the MedQuarter is going to notice these eye-catching holiday decorations,” said Jesse Thoeming, Downtown District executive director. “We’re creating a destination so people will want to visit the Downtown and MedQuarter Districts and see all we have to offer here.”

The last two seasons have seen an increase in scope and footprint for holiday lighting throughout downtown. This holiday season, Downtown Cedar Rapids teamed up with the MedQuarter District to coordinate the décor and lighting layout. The MedQuarter’s signature street, 10th Street SE, will be fully illuminated along with the majority of downtown and portions of Kingston Village.

“We hope the public enjoys the new features, especially the bright connection between the MedQuarter and Downtown,” said Phil Wasta, MedQuarter executive director. “This holiday lighting is what you would expect in a larger city. It’s truly an upgrade for Cedar Rapids and we hope people make a point to get out and enjoy how it shows off our city.”

Vision Downtown Cedar Rapids

The Cedar Rapids community has seen an incredible amount of change over the past several years, due largely from the impact of the 2008 flood. The Economic Alliance is playing a part in assisting the City of Cedar Rapids with flood protection efforts through public policy advocacy and community outreach. As a staunch supporter and advocate for state and federal dollars, the EA has assisted the City of Cedar Rapids in securing $264 million over 20 years to build a flood protection system on both sides of the Cedar River.

This Vision Downtown Cedar Rapids Plan provides a broad understanding of downtown’s purpose and helps to direct the energy and resources of future downtown development opportunities. As with the original plan, previous planning efforts and documents were critical to the development. There is no intent to reinvent the wheel, but rather to update already-dynamic plans to incorporate the latest circumstances and future opportunities.

With many of the initiatives realized and much of Downtown Cedar Rapids and surrounding districts transformed, we're at a turning point. The most recent update to the plan in 2017 launches an even bigger and brighter future thanks to some significant factors like:

  • Undeveloped land, or impact sites, in the heart of downtown
  • Collaborative district leadership
  • A general feeling of momentum for Downtown Cedar Rapids

It has become more and more clear, as we have listened, observed, and engaged, that the focus is shifting from implementation to creating a vibrant downtown experience. Read the latest Vision Downtown Cedar Rapids Plan now!

Downtown Facade Improvement Program

The Downtown Façade Improvement Program (the Program) is intended to encourage property and business owners within the downtown to renovate their building fronts and other exteriors plainly visible to the public, in order to promote more renovations and high quality exterior improvements. Project costs are shared by the Downtown SSMID Commission and the City of Cedar Rapids.

The Program has once again been funded for 2018 and 2019 by the Downtown SSMID and the City of Cedar Rapids. To begin the application process, reach out to Downtown Executive Director Jesse Thoeming at for an initial consultation.

Between 2014 and 2017 the Downtown Facade Improvement Grant Matching Program made 14 awards totaling $100,000 in support of projects representing nearly $1.9 million in total façade improvements. These facade improvement projects were part of projects totaling over $52 million in capital improvements.

Recently completed projects include the Armstrong Centre, the Clock House building, the Gatto Building, Quarter Barrel Arcade & Brewery, Theatre Cedar Rapids, the Smulekoff's Building and Town Centre.

To find out how to apply for the Program, contact us today!

Downtown Cedar Rapids Sucks

The Downtown Cedar Rapids Sucks social media campaign debuted in summer 2018 and aimed to pique interest in downtown housing opportunities, events, quality of life and businesses. The campaign demands attention on a platform where success is made in capturing attention quickly and is made to be shared widely. Do we think Downtown Cedar Rapids sucks? No. Downtown Cedar Rapids is vibrant, lively and cultured. By using satire, the video series invited others to spread that message and share their “hometown” pride for Downtown Cedar Rapids.

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