Historic Designation for Downtown IC Debated

Historic Designation for Downtown IC Debated                              

The pros and cons of designating downtown Iowa City as a historic district were debated Tuesday night at the Englert Theater.

The discussion was part of a public forum hosted by the City of Iowa City Historical Preservation Commission ahead of plans to conduct a survey of downtown buildings.

This fall, a consultant will begin survey work to update information found in a 2001 survey about the Iowa City Central Business District. Work will continue through spring of next year. The survey area is between Clinton and Gilbert Streets and Iowa Avenue and Burlington Street.

Tuesday night’s discussion mostly focused on whether the city should designate the entire area as a historic district or designate individual buildings on a case-by-case basis.

Ginalie Swaim, the chairwoman of the Iowa City Historic Preservation Commission, argued that historic districts attract more people and would improve the local economy. But Benjamin Nelson, the City Council liaison for University of Iowa Student Government, countered by saying the historic district designation would inhibit development and prevent needed business renovations. Nelson added that it would also discourage the development of more downtown housing, pushing UI students farther from campus.

The survey should be completed by spring.