MUSCATINE, Iowa–Each year, the Iowa Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA-Iowa) asks its members to
nominate plans, projects, and individuals deserving recognition by the professional organization. Award nominees can earn recognition in 15 categories, ranging from public outreach to distinguished leadership. Based on an independent review by a jury of professional planners from the Nebraska Chapter of the APA, nine nominees received APA-Iowa Awards in 2020.
Urban Design Award
Awardees: City of Muscatine and Bolton & Menk, Inc.
Plan: Reconnecting Muscatine
Muscatine, historically known as the “Pearl City” or “The Button Factory of the World”, has rich cultural and ethnic diversity, rooted in industrial beginnings that shaped the city’s growth along the Mississippi River. Mississippi Drive, once a bustling boat and rail yard turned truck route, divided downtown Muscatine from the riverfront. As the city evolved, the riverfront transformed into a regional amenity with recreational offerings and public open space but suffered from increasing vehicular traffic and lack of connectivity to downtown. Accessibility challenges, dangerous railroad crossings, and aging infrastructure have historically plagued the 1.6-mile corridor.
In 2011, Blue Zones and Healthyways joined with Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield to deliver the Blue Zones Project across the state in support of the Governor’s Healthiest State Initiative. Designated as a Blue Zones Project in 2014, the city established an expectation for redefining the priorities of the Mississippi riverfront. The long-term goal included providing a safe and attractive multimodal streetscape corridor to promote economic development in downtown and encourage more pedestrian and recreational activity along the riverfront.
As part of a phased reconstruction strategy for downtown Muscatine, the city reimagined Mississippi Drive, developed plans for the reconstruction of Grandview Avenue, and has started work reconstructing Second Street through the downtown core, and has finished construction on the Mulberry Roundabout. Together, these projects complement one another, totaling approximately $40 million in public infrastructure with the goal of reconnecting Muscatine and its downtown to the Mississippi River.