Urban Streetscape Creates New Kind of Shopping Experience
Anchored on the north by the historic Oster-Regent Theatre and on the south by the Cedar Falls Public Library, the Parkade in downtown Cedar Falls is the heart of the city’s business district. Developed in 1968, the meandering Parkade streetscape was created to draw shoppers downtown and help revitalize the struggling business district. The plan included the signature curved street, diagonal parking, attractive landscaping, paver sidewalks, and outdoor sculptures.
By the mid-2010s, however, much of the Parkade had suffered from deteriorating conditions and required repairs. The City of Cedar Falls, along with the Community Main Street group partnered with Snyder & Associates to develop a downtown streetscape master plan and supporting construction documents. The goal was not only to repair existing infrastructure but also to improve the walkability of the Parkade and create a cohesive feel for the growing area. This meant creating a design that reflects the historic district, yet offers a contemporary aesthetic. The design should also extend the life of the streetscape beyond what’s been implemented in the past.
Improving Walkability Presents Design Obstacles & Project Challenges
The focus area for this project covered Main Street between 1st Street and 6th Street, as well as the side streets extending off Main. The work on the side streets included the addition of curb bump-outs at the alley entrances and the creation of a more uniform parking arrangement. It was critical on this portion of the project to improve the streetscape without removing valuable parking stalls.
Our team also needed to coordinate the needs and requirements of numerous stakeholders including city leaders, area business owners, and residents. During the project, work to the sidewalk network would need to maintain access to businesses in all areas of construction. Brief closures to reestablish sidewalk pavers at a business’s front door would be the exception.
Public Input Drives Project Options & Goal Setting
Based on information received through input sessions with the public and stakeholder groups, the Snyder & Associates team designed numerous options for city leaders to consider. These options provided precedent imagery to help narrow the design aesthetic, as well as graphic depictions of various streetscape options. Paver and other material samples were brought on-site to help in the selection process. This allowed the design team to showcase the options to determine appropriate color, size, and material choice. Our team also incorporated new utility infrastructure into the streetscape plan and coordinated all improvements and upgrades to ensure a seamless process.
The Parkade redevelopment project is being completed as a partnership between the city, the Community Main Street group, and Cedar Falls Utilities (CFU). Community Main Street completed a fundraising campaign to support the project while a grant from the Black Hawk County Gaming Association is helping with a portion of the project, as well. The Snyder & Associates team produced graphics and a video presentation to assist with the grant package application process. This multi-phased project kicked off in 2019 with plans to carry out reconstruction efforts over multiple seasons.
The Cedar Falls Parkade has been home to many annual events, including Holiday Hoopla and the ARTapalooza Fine Art Show. The current improvements underway look to develop a streetscape design, supporting utility, and upgraded road infrastructure that unites twelve historic downtown city blocks — continuing a community-friendly environment for another generation.