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Coralville to celebrate neighborhood transformation

Old Town Hall dedication is Friday, Street dance on tap Saturday

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CORALVILLE — In 1922, a dance was held in Coralville to celebrate the city’s first paved street.

A year earlier, Fifth Street was paved for the first time as part of Highway 21, said Rex Brandstatter, a Coralville real estate broker and the city’s unofficial historian. The next paved road came in 1961, he said.

Paving Fifth Street helped launch a boom in Coralville and as traffic increased, so did the number of local businesses, like gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores.

They’ll be dancing in the streets again Saturday as officials wrap up a two-day event aimed at celebrating the near completion of the city’s “Reimagine 5th” project, which has focused on revitalizing the historic area of Coralville along Fifth Street between First and Tenth avenues.

“We decided it was a big deal then and it’s a big deal now, so we should hold a street dance,” said Coralville City Administrator Kelly Hayworth. “This is a big celebration for us because it’s a project we’ve been working on for a long, long time. It’s the transformation of a whole neighborhood.”

The street dance takes place from 6-10:30 p.m. on Fifth Street from Seventh to Ninth avenues. The band Central Standard Time plays at 6 p.m. followed by Midlife Crisis at 7:30 p.m. Food, beverages and all kinds of family activities are planned.

The festivities actually get underway Friday with a 4 p.m. dedication of the city’s Old Town Hall at 407 Fifth St.

Ellen Habel, assistant city administrator, said Old Town Hall — the heartbeat of the city from 1930 to 1974 — was restored and moved from 206 Second Ave. to its current home in May 2014. Cost for the project was $74,000.

Friday’s dedication also marks the opening of a permanent exhibit inside the building, said Alyssa McGhghy, exhibit designer with the Johnson County Historical Society, which now manages Old Town Hall and the nearby Coralville Schoolhouse at 310 Fifth St.

Built in 1876, the schoolhouse was renovated in 2013 to the tune of $22,200 and was the first piece of the Reimagine 5th project.

“Preserving buildings is one of the most important ways we can look back on history, especially locally,” McGhghy said.

Planning for Reimagine 5th actually started in the 1990s. After the 2008 flood, plans were accelerated.

A major aspect of the project has been reconstruction of Fifth Street and the installation of a flood protection system. The $4.7 million project, paid for with money from the Iowa Mitigation Board, begin in March 2015 and is expected to wrap up soon, Habel said.

Work on Fifth Street included reconstruction of the road from Sixth to Ninth avenues, elevation of Fifth Street over Biscuit Creek from Third to Fourth avenues, as well as new sidewalks, lighting and stormwater planters from First to Ninth avenues.

City officials have also pushed for construction along the major thoroughfare, including a new development called “808 on 5th” south of Fifth Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues.

Hayworth said the projects will help Coralville continue to grow and develop, particularly after the damage done in the 2008 flood.

“(Coralville) lost a little over 200 residential units in the area,” Hayworth said. “So to have new houses being built and having new business come to the area, it’s really great to see.”

For Brandstatter, stepping into the refurbished Old Town Hall is “a time warp.”

He was elected to Coralville’s City Council at age 21 and served for a year and a half before graduating from the University of Iowa in 1972. He was the youngest person to ever be seated on the council.

Brandstatter said Old Town Hall once housed several city offices, including the police station, public library, council chambers and engineering department.

He said he’s happy to see the building preserved.

“I’m a firm believer that if we can remember and honor and pay homage to our past, we have a good grip on our future,” he said.

The public is invited to celebrate the renewal of Fifth Street in Coralville. Among “Reimagine 5th” events today and Saturday:

Dedication of Old Town Hall

When: 4 p.m. today

Where: 407 Fifth St.

Details: Reception to follow, with exhibits from Johnson County Historical Society

Street dance

When: 6 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Fifth Street from Seventh to Ninth avenues

Details: Bands Central Standard Time, 6 p.m.; and Midlife Crisis, 7:30 p.m. No pets, except for service animals.

Also Saturday

Food truck: 6 p.m. at 808 Fifth St.

Kids’ Zone: 6 to 9 p.m., 708 Fifth St., includes bounce house, craft table, balloon artist, chalk art. Free.

Beverage Garden: 6 to

11 p.m., 708 to 808 Fifth St.

Street closures: Fifth Street from Sixth to 10th avenues, 4 to 11 p.m. During these hours, local access only to Seventh, Eighth and Ninth avenues south of Sixth Street.

Parking: Free near the Coralville Public Library, Coralville Center for the Performing Arts at Town Center parking ramp and area streets.

Questions: Go to coralville.org or call (319) 248-1700.

Transit: Coralville Transit is changing Saturday routes beginning at 3:30 p.m. Buses not stopping at Fifth Street and Eighth Avenue (#4360). Temporary stop will be on southwest corner of Fifth Street and 10th Avenue. For more information, call (319) 248-1790.

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