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Locate Here

Businesses seeking retail or office spaces in a vibrant, walkable, and urban environment will find Downtown Iowa City’s dense layout desirable by today’s 21st-century workforce. There is a wide variety of amenities with no commute.

Downtown Iowa City is immediately adjacent to the University of Iowa campus and historic Pentacrest. The thriving Pedestrian Mall area, home to hundreds of locally owned businesses in historic and contemporary architecture, was recently named a National Historic Landmark District for Urban Renewal Era.

The Iowa City Downtown District has a robust list of incentive programs for businesses including grant opportunities, complimentary services, and data reports. Click through the Business Services tab to see our current list of incentive opportunities for ICDD businesses.

Come be a part of the action and bring your business to the Iowa City Downtown District.

Trade Area

Named the “Most Walkable City in Iowa”

Downtown’s urban layout has a Walk Score @ 93 and classified as a Bikers Paradise @ 95. The City of Iowa City & University of Iowa integrated public transportation hub serves visitors and employees with free access to the UI CAMBUS.

Downtown Composition & Urban Framework

Over 110 Restaurants and Bars | 60+ Retailers | 20 Entertainment & Cultural Venues | 120 Professional, Health & Well-Being | 30+ Non-profits

Households & Workforce

$79K Avg. HH Income | 26% of HH earn over $100K | 40% have BA or higher education | 40% of population aged 35-64

24K employees within 1-mile of downtown

University of Iowa Market

Over 30,000 students | 14,000 U Iowa Admin, Staff & Faculty | 15,000 University of Iowa Hospital & Clinic employees

Visitor Market

6.7M annual visitors to the Downtown District in 2019 | 13M to U Iowa

5 Hotels and 575 hotel rooms

670K annual visitors to the Iowa City Public Library

Contact Nancy Bird, Executive Director (nancy@downtowniowacity.com)  for additional questions, custom insights, leasing information, and organization details.

Business Services

The ICDD provides many opportunities to attract and retain great businesses in the Downtown District.  The following opportunities are available to Downtown District businesses throughout Downtown and the Northside neighborhoods.

Incentive Opportunities

The ICDD works in tandem with City of Iowa City staff to ensure those looking to locate Downtown have the information they need to make critical investment decisions. This page includes resources where our staff and the City of Iowa City staff collaborate to support members.

Support for New Retail Tenants

New leases signed that provide dry goods or other merchandise meet the ICDD’s Retail Strategy.  The goal is to help preserve downtown spaces that don’t already have commercial kitchens for other commercial use. These businesses are eligible for the following:

  1. $15,000 Retail Build-Out Grant to support the costs of creating a dynamic store environment.
  2. Complimentary customer insights, accurate foot traffic, dwell time, and psychographic data custom to your location.
  3. Complimentary retail delivery service up to 15-mile radius from Downtown Delivers
  4. Complimentary e-commerce merchandise sales support via downtowniowacitymarket.com
  5. CoSign+ signage and storefront grant @ 50% match up to $3,000
  6. City liaison, mentoring, and marketing support to launch a business successfully

Support for Night-Life Businesses

Better Bathrooms is a program developed and launched in 2021 to help support nightlife businesses in the Downtown District to reinvest in their bathroom facilities. Many times the last area that gets a lot of investment and attention are the restrooms – one of the most used and important spaces for safety in restaurants and bars.  Another round of grants will be open and available in 2023.

Location Services

Companies seeking commercial space or development opportunities downtown should contact the Iowa City Downtown District.  The ICDD provides non-commissioned leasing support as requested by downtown property owners to support the location of businesses that meet the Downtown District’s mission. Inquiries are confidential and without fee.

Marketing Opportunities

The ICDD is proud to provide marketing services that help Downtown businesses reach their full potential. Downtowniowacity.com has become more than just a site about the ICDD – it is the resource for everything that is happening in the commercial core. Take advantage of our tools and services to promote your business online and in the community.

Our comprehensive and searchable business and organization listing is the most complete resource for residents, employees, and visitors in the region. We use this information to create dining and retail guides, maps, and marketing campaigns for the benefit of the entire District.

Event Listings

If you host or organize events that take place within the ICDD, you are welcome to submit them for posting on our featured events listing. We accept submissions through our online Event Submission Form, which allows us to quickly review and post your events as you would like them to appear. Approved events will display within 2-3 business days.

Occupying the pedestrian mall, closing streets or sidewalks, or utilizing public space for an event often requires a permit from the City of Iowa City.  Visit the City’s website to review permitting needs.

Networking

Join the ICDD Retail or Restaurant Caucuses to get connected with local business owners, marketing, advertising, public relations, and event planning leads. As a member of these Caucuses, you have unique opportunities to stay in the know and create community. The Caucuses are business-driven and are a joint initiative of the ICDD.

Monthly meetings for the Retail Caucus are held the 1st Thursday of each month from 9:00am to 10:00am at various locations. Restaurant Caucuses are typically held monthly on the 3rd Thursday at 2pm.

Once a month the ICDD facilitates a happy hour gathering at Downtown establishments. “First Round” is open to anyone (no RSVP necessary) and features conversation and stories from creative influencers in both the business and arts communities. Different Iowa City-area business sponsor the event each month by buying the first round of drinks for all attendees. Follow “First Round” on Facebook for updated information.

Partner Resources

The mission of the ICDD team is to improve and enhance Downtown and Northside Neighborhoods and bring investment and new businesses to the area. We work with many community partners to ensure collaboration as needed to support new business or entrepreneurial efforts.