CEDAR FALLS — Have ideas on the future of College Hill? The city wants to hear from you.
Just like they did for the downtown area, the city of Cedar Falls is holding a Design Charette Week for its Imagine College Hill project, which kicked off in January.
A charette is a meeting in which stakeholders in a project attempt to resolve conflicts and map solutions. It’s aimed at getting input from those who live, work and play in the College Hill area about what they’d like to see done differently in terms of housing, transportation, parking and new development.
“It’s a very dynamic area,” said Karen Howard, planning and community services manager. “It’s an area we wanted to be thinking of planning in the future.”
The area in question takes in all of the areas adjacent to the University of Northern Iowa as well as the surrounding neighborhoods, many of which are older, from West 12th Street up to Main Street’s southern portion as well, she said.
“Eventually, the ideas is to create a new vision for all of these parts of town, so we can update our policies, update our zoning code to help us implement our vision,” Howard said.
Kathryn Sogard, the director of the College Hill Partnership, which advocates for businesses and residents in the area, said she is excited to have some clear vision on what the area will look like in the future. She noted developers who have run into issues in the area deserve less “ambiguity.”
“I think there’s rarely an opportunity to have this big of an impact on the future of your city over the next 25 to 50 years,” Sogard said. “It’s a really exciting opportunity to help shape the future of the College Hill area and the city of Cedar Falls for a long time.”
The design charette normally kicks off with a big, in-person workshop, said Howard, plans that were set for March and April and then upended by the coronavirus pandemic.
City staff have now found a way to pivot to entirely virtual sessions via Zoom. Those will kick off Saturday with a community virtual workshop from 9 to 11 a.m., which is open to the public.
Participants will watch a presentation, then break out into smaller virtual rooms to have group discussions on topics ranging from parking to bike trails to the types of housing that might attract Gen Z, Howard said.
“The nice thing is people can Zoom in in their pajamas,” Howard said. “Take a couple hours in the morning to help the future of Cedar Falls.”