As you enter the Cedar Falls Downtown district it is clear you have arrived in a Great American Main Street. Signage welcomes you and directs you to your area of interest and/or need. The entire 29-block district is easily accessed whether you enter by foot, bike, mass transit or car. A trolley system brings employees and visitors into the district from outlying parking sites and transports them around the district. You are struck by the cleanliness and you feel warm and safe as you enjoy your surroundings. The shoppe owners, workers in the district, and even those just visiting the area are cordial and friendly. You realize the motto “where good friends meet” is much more than just words.
Now that you are in the district you are amazed at the number and variety of unique shops, restaurants and businesses. Some are small startups and most are locally owned, providing multiple services 24/7. The total district has open wireless connectivity. You pull up an app that directs you to where you want to go, providing an explanation of the historical significance and identifying architectural features of the buildings along the route. You can connect to the Community Main Street website which in turn identifies what is available to do and see in the district, linking to individual entities whose websites introduce their services, staff and current specials and events.
The Main Street District has become a destination for you and many others from Northeast Iowa and beyond. The new riverfront hotel and meeting center, the historic Blackhawk Hotel, and the Blackhawk Motor Lodge allow you and other visitors to enjoy multi-day stays. During your stay you enjoy the whitewater park and miles of hard and soft bike trails lie just outside your door. Arts and entertainment venues, appealing public art, interesting historical museums, and intriguing shops and restaurants invite a leisurely stroll through downtown. Residents, community members and guests enjoy the opportunity to purchase fresh, locally produced foodstuffs including fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meats at the 3 season open air farmers market. There is always something going on Downtown, but if you want to participate in University activities or have business in the Industrial and Technology Park, the centrally located intermodal transportation system makes it a breeze to navigate between it all.
If you want to locate your business here, you’d better plan ahead since there is a waiting list for older buildings, as well as for newer retail buildings along Washington, State and connecting streets. This recent development has expanded the mix of stores, offices and public facilities. A variety of housing opportunities including senior living, make Downtown “a great place to call home!”
They say overnight successes take years to develop and the Main Street District did not magically appear. After talking to “locals” you’ll discover it’s the visionary leadership of Community Main Street and its growing base of diverse volunteers that are the primary reason Downtown thrives and businesses here prosper. You’ll learn it is because of the organization’s strong reputation as an effective economic development entity, they were able to build strategic partnerships with the city and other allied organizations to accomplish the Community Main Street vision --- or --- that continue the Main Street tradition of delighting the community.
Further inquiry helps you realize Community Main Street has enjoyed outstanding growth and success, but it has never lost sight of the core Historic District from which that growth has occurred. The organization continues to be the ‘go to’ source of education and encouragement for preservation of the historic buildings. You too, will soon understand the importance of using “the new” as a tool to enhance and promote history while preserving and respecting “the old.”
You wonder how Community Main Street continues the momentum year after year. You find the organization’s leadership has been a reliable steward of its financial resources, allowing the competent and enthusiastic staff to implement the Program, advocate for Downtown Cedar Falls, and promote teamwork among business owners and employees, residents and guests. Enter the new Main Street Office to find a physical and virtual hub offering information and education, which helps owners of historic buildings preserve them and business owners’ stay abreast of trends.
Community Main Street, a certified Main Street program, is not only the driving force for economic development within the district, but also the creator of a variety of award winning events including Movies Under the Moon, ARTapalooza, Girls Night Out, Holiday Hoopla, and more. Their programming of the River Plaza is a blend of both organized and spontaneous activities including a Times Square-like ice rink that you can enjoy while dining at adjoining restaurants.
Downtown Cedar Falls is truly a great place to call home, where good friends meet, and a destination you will want to visit often.
Revised and adopted in March 2015