Mound View festival meant to spark vision of Cedar Rapids neighborhood's future

Event planned for Saturday

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Mound View residents have a chance to plan the future of their neighborhood during an upcoming festival.

Imagine Mound View, from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, is part block party with activities and food trucks, and part urban visioning process for the area between Coe College and Mount Mercy University.

The festival is centered near the intersection of F Avenue and 17th Street NE.

The goal is to spur residents, developers and city officials to re-imagine the Mound View neighborhood and to reinvest, said Corridor Urbanism’s Ben Kaplan.

Based in Cedar Rapids, Corridor Urbanism is an agency advocating for urban living. The festival is part of the tactical urbanism movement, which entails making small changes to an urban area to make the space more accommodating and appealing.

“It’s showcasing neighborhoods that have been dis-invested in for a long time and places that are generally considered bad neighborhoods but where there are a lot of inherently good design elements,” Kaplan said. “Mound View is one of Cedar Rapids’ oldest neighborhoods. It’s got a bunch of gorgeous houses from the turn of the century. It’s got a ton of retail shops that are underused.”

The festival, the first for the neighborhood and Corridor Urbanism, will feature food trucks and stands such as the Brewhemia coffee bike and one from CR Whiskey Sauce. An interactive art project by the Eastern Iowa Academy of the Arts also is planned, along with other craft and retail stands. Residents can write their wish list for the area on large visioning boards at the festival.

Multiple Cedar Rapids mayoral candidates and candidates for other local offices plan to attend the event, Kaplan said.

A festival teeming with people and pop-up shops is a teaser for residents to envision the future of the area, Kaplan said.

“The festival part is saying, ‘What would this area be like — not only with this urban planning element — but if these shops were full and you could get a cup of coffee and get lunch?’” Kaplan said. “If you live in this neighborhood, you could walk over when you need to run an errand. It would recast the neighborhood as a place with a lot of potential rather than a place that’s in decline.”

Tom Podzimek, owner of Benchmark Construction and Mound View resident, said he hopes residents and developers realize the potential of the area.

“You’ve got 5,000 students plus an existing neighborhood, yet living in the community we don’t see those students out shopping and doing other things,” Podzimek said. “Part of the reason is there are not places for them to come do that. It’s poised for greatness. It could be anything.”

The neighborhood sits between the Plaster Athletic Complex and Coe College’s campus. In addition, the CEMAR Trail runs through the area. It would be a perfect space for a recreation complex, neighborhood pool, increased recreation on nearby Cedar Lake and revitalized shops and restaurants, Podzimek said.

The Metropolitan Planning Organization also will demonstrate what a protected bike lane would look like in the area. Volunteers helped build planter boxes out of wooden pallets at Podzimek’s shop, and the planters will line the outside of the bike line.

And Podzimek, who also sits on the College District advisory group that advocates for the upkeep in and surrounding Mound View, thinks residents and developers are ready for rebirth in the neighborhood. The challenge will be how to spur a plan after the festival.

“This is just really at the fledgling stage to get people to look at the area,” he said.

IF YOU GO

What: Imagine Mound View

When: Noon to 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Near intersection of F Avenue and 17th Street NE between Coe College and Mount Mercy University

Cost: Free

Info: Search “Mound View” on Facebook

l Comments: (319) 368-8516; makayla.tendall@thegazette.com

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