University of Iowa

Keokuk Downtown Redevelopment Plan

As part of their capstone project, second-year graduate students from the School of Urban & Regional Planning will create a redevelopment plan for a segment of downtown Keokuk, Iowa.

The community of Keokuk requests assistance in the development of a downtown redevelopment plan. The downtown redevelopment area is a segment of the downtown district and  includes 15 city blocks and the River City Mall.  

The main goals of the plan will be to create a sustainable redevelopment plan to reuse existing infrastructure, reinvigorate investment in the downtown area, and create community friendly space that is connected to surrounding residential neighborhoods and the riverfront.  Currently, there are several large vacant buildings and lots including the River City Mall, former Baymont Inn and Suites, and the YWCA. There are also several strong anchor buildings in this area including the city hall, Hotel Iowa, Grand Theater and South Lee County Courthouse. In the past three years, several buildings and houses that were beyond repair were demolished resulting in city owned vacant lots. The city would like to attract and incentivize commercial and/or residential development on vacant lots. Furthermore, the city has acquired buildings on and around Main Street that are available for redevelopment. There is active reinvestment in the area including the Eagles on Blondeau historic preservation project completed in 2013 and the future Keokuk Public Library Foundation Park.

The Downtown Redevelopment Plan will examine current land use patterns within the downtown area and will recommend changes based on any current prohibited uses and best practices for the future. These recommendations may include general and permitted uses for any new or redeveloped structures, height and other density requirements, any utility or infrastructure requirements, and parking requirements. The Plan will also recommend design standards for any redevelopment or new development, including architectural standards, signage requirements, streetscape requirements, and open space requirements for the downtown area.

The Downtown Redevelopment Plan will also need to include recommendations for transportation in the downtown area. This may include proposing altering street networks, reexamining street types within the downtown, examining vehicular and pedestrian circulation within the downtown, best practices for signage, and linkages to existing and future public greenspaces.  The Plan must also include identification of funding sources for any new development or redevelopment within downtown, including local, state, and national sources.

Students will also use public input identify strengths and weaknesses of the downtown core to inform planning and design concepts, as well as form, shape, locations of key improvements, and phasing alternatives.