About ICDD

About the Organization

Downtown Iowa City has had an active business association since the turn of the 19th Century after the founding of Iowa City as the original state capitol in 1839. After more than a century of growth, the business association rebranded in 2012 as the Iowa City Downtown District by a successful petition to property owners to generate tax revenue through a Self Supported Municipal Improvement District (SSMID) to enhance Downtown. The ICDD is a 501(c) (6)nonprofit organization representing property owners and stakeholders in the Downtown and Northside Neighborhoods of Iowa City charged with overseeing the reinvestment of these funds as they advance a mission to steward the area.

The ICDD provides a leadership directive that advocates for the District mission and serves as a mechanism to more efficiently implement District-wide marketing, programs, events, and projects that support vitality for the benefit of all the businesses within it, the University of Iowa, community members, and the region at large. Since its inception, the Downtown District continues to forge an exciting and deliberate path forward towards cultural vibrancy, resiliency, and sustainability.


The Iowa City Downtown District serves the Downtown and Northside neighborhoods (SSMID aerial map) and is closely aligned with the University of Iowa. The membership of the ICDD is comprised of all the roughly 150 property owners, businesses, and organizations that are located within these neighborhoods and the University. Most members contribute to the ICDD through the SSMID levy or through a direct contribution.


Our mission is to champion the Iowa City Downtown District as a progressive, healthy, and culturally vibrant urban center of the region.

Our Vision

The Iowa City Downtown District is a hub connecting all Iowa City neighborhoods and our surrounding cities together.

Our Values

At the center the Iowa City Downtown District’s Work are core values, which are the means by which the ICDD will achieve its vision. These BOLDD values drive how the ICDD operates internally as well as how it functions within the community and region.


The ICDD has a reputation of thinking big and we strive to push the creative envelope with proactive endeavors, initiatives, and thought.


The ICDD is invested in this place. We keep it authentic to the heritage and culture of this space–home to many “first”, perhaps a few “last”, in an original Downtown (circa 1839).


Our practices are thoughtful of our economic, environmental, and social impact to the larger community and we encourage this ethic amongst our members.


Collaboration is a key feature of our working model and we strive to establish programs that advance many community objectives in meaningful ways. We value imagination and innovation in envisioning possibilities and finding solutions to challenges–the entrepreneurial courage to embrace the future and the creative flexibility to respond with dynamic results.


Welcoming, supporting, and collaborating with our great variety of people, ideas, and enterprises, knowing we are stronger together. Specifically striving to bring minority and majority groups together.

Annually, the ICDD reviews and reports on our Mission Progress and that of our Strategic Plan.

Board of Directors

Because Downtown organizations can be an important impetus to social, environmental, and economic change, the District’s by-laws provide that the leadership for the organization include stable representation of Downtown interests and the University of Iowa, opportunities for stakeholder insights within the community, well-integrated ex-officio representation, and gender balance. The Board and staff are comprised as follows:

Board meetings are held monthly and members are encouraged to attend.

Meeting minutes are open for public review.


President: Wendy Zimmermann – Get Fresh Cafe
President-Elect: Jason Paulios – Iowa City Public Library
Treasurer: Greg Turner – MidWestOne Bank
Secretary: Tony Branch – United Action for Youth
Past President: Charlie Nusser – Hands Jewelers

Ex-Officio, Non-Voting Members

Rachel Kilburg – City of Iowa City
Austin Korns – Iowa City Area Development Group/ Iowa City Area Business Partnership
Monica Nieves – Think Iowa City
Abby Restko – Summer of the Arts
Keaton Zeimet – UI Student Government
Betsy Potter – Iowa City Downtown District
Adrianne Korbakes – CommUnity 


Ding Ding – Teamo Tea
David Kieft – University of Iowa
Nina Lohman – I.C. Downtown Arts Alliance, Brink Literary Magazine
Kevin Felker – Prairie Kitchen Store
Diego Lasansky – Lasansky Gallery
Josh Immerfall – Donnelly’s Pub
Jeet Saini – Om Gifts
Kris Kass – Joseph’s Steakhouse
Macy Krall– 223 Baby Co
Sophie Donta – OPN Architects


The daily work of the ICDD is conducted by a great team of staff that are approachable and here to advance the mission of the organization.

Executive Director: Betsy Potter

Nighttime Mayor: Joe Reilly

Director of Marketing: Christopher Hunter

Director of Special Events: Katie Carpenter

Graphic Designer: Robyn Hepker of Benson & Hepker Design


The Downtown District has identified several long-term programs and initiatives that reflect the evolving nature of the Downtown District, the innovative spirit of our community, and the many varied opportunities for people to connect with each other and us. These initiatives provide a portal for community involvement and ultimately, ownership. Our advocacy takes each of these initiatives into account and aligns with the Downtown District’s strategic plan.

Downtown District History

The Downtown District is the economic and cultural engine of the Iowa City community. It is home to a wide variety of independent, locally-owned boutiques, shops, and some of the very best in dining and entertainment, and is a place where University and local business innovations merge. The Downtown’s unique and distinguishing features include:

Its locational adjacency to the University of Iowa’s central landmark campus, the “Pentacrest,” and connection with faculty and campus life.

Its historic building stock juxtaposed against contemporary architecture reflecting the authenticity of a Downtown that has evolved over the past 175 years.

Its headquarters for the U.S. City of Literature, one of 20 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO) in the world. This designation was granted to Iowa City due to the heritage around the UI Writer’s Workshop and the City’s deep literary culture.

Its central “Ped Mall,” one of the few remaining vibrant pedestrian malls in the nation that serves as the living room of the community with over 35 sidewalk patios.

Its walkable and bikeable urban grid, as envisioned by then Commissioner Chauncey Swan when laying out the old State Capitol along the Iowa River in 1839.

Its function as the community’s central “Downtown” for the Iowa City, Coralville, and North Liberty areas with retail, small grocers, restaurants, residential, nightlife, and multiple cultural and civic amenities.

Situated a few blocks north from the Ped Mall in the Downtown neighborhood, a statue of famed local historian Irving Weber anchors a walkway that stretches north through UI campus to the District’s second neighborhood – the Northside Marketplace. The Northside holds its own rich history, especially when it comes to politics and beer. The landmark “writer’s diner,” Hamburg Inn #2, is where Presidents and political hopefuls come to caucus and find the Midwesterner’s interest and over the years, the Northside pubs have seated many world-renowned authors. The neighborhood was also once home to a brewer’s guild and historic beer caves remain in tunnels under many of the churches, restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, and specialty retail today.