City: ‘Community must be proactive making downtown development plan work’

CONTRIBUTED GRAPHIC An artist rendition of the Downtown Development Plan.

Housing and Community Development Director Michelle Spohnheimer challenged Marshalltown residents from every section of the city to help make the newly approved downtown development plan work.

At Monday night’s regular council meeting, Spohnheimer said volunteers will be needed to serve on several committees needed as part of recommendations put forth by professionals at Short Elliot Hendrickson Inc. That company was hired by the city to develop a master plan which could guide downtown development for years to come.

The Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation, and U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration awarded the city grants to pay for the study.

“What we have before us now is a really exciting downtown development plan,” Spohnheimer said. “The full plan is available online with supporting documentation. We will have hard copies of the plan printed and available for the public.”

Councilors agreed. They voted 6-0 (one councilor was absent) to accept the plan.

“It (the plan) gives us a tool and a guide to look at future private development,” she said.

The concepts presented were six months in the making, encompassing ways to revamp the area following the July 2018 tornado.

The region spans Third Street to Fifth Avenue and Madison Street to Grant Street/Byron Street/Bromley Street, focusing on commercial, residential, industrial and open spaces.

Project Manager Bob Kost of SEH Inc. has been working closely to develop the Master Plan.

Entertainment gateways, new dining options, rental apartments, places for artists to work and live, food truck space and plaza space are in the plan. Streamlining downtown parking options is a key component of the master plan. It includes encouraging the development of underground and above ground parking, requiring bike parking facilities to be included in all new downtown development projects. Changes would also simplify on-street parking restrictions to 2-hour parking from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The plan encourages converting Church and Linn Streets from one-way to two-way streets. The plan promotes conducting a traffic engineering study to access the impact on traffic and turning in downtown, and see if modifications to traffic control and signage is needed. In addition, it is encouraged to maintain current parking options in that area and use a “yield-street” configuration in the most narrow part of the streets, outside the downtown area.

For more information, contact Spohnheimer at 641-754-5756.


Contact Mike Donahey at

641-753-6611 or