August 1st, 2018
For the second consecutive year, the City of Marion was named an All-Star Community by the Iowa League of Cities. The 2018 award was given for the Uptown Artway project. The city will be recognized at an Awards Banquet at the League’s Annual Conference & Exhibit, held in Council Bluffs from September 12-14.
The All-Star Community Award is the most prestigious honor given by the League to cities. Entries are judged by a panel of former city officials and others familiar with municipal government. Judges determine winners based on innovative efforts in areas such as urban renewal, development, preservation, collaborative efforts or quality of life improvements. Marion was among three of Iowa’s 945 cities to garner such recognition.
Marion has transformed an alley in their Uptown shopping district and defined it with nine permanent pieces of art, turning the alleyway between 10th and 11th Streets, behind the shops facing 7th and 8th Avenues, into a destination of its own.
To make it all happen the city worked with utility companies to bury overhead lines and replace aging infrastructure. A committee reviewed more than 80 artist proposals, eventually selecting five Iowa artists and four from other parts of the country. Local businesses granted easements and in some cases permanent public access to the city to create the alcoves and nooks for the art and performance space.
The end product has enhanced economic development in the area. More than 10 properties near the Artway are now home to new businesses or in the process of being renovated. In addition, mixed-use developers are interested in the area and may triple the current number of available housing units. The City and Chamber of Commerce, who partnered to make this project possible, are even considering an expansion to the Uptown Artway to create more public space in the alleys to the east or west.
“Marion is creating a legacy for the future founded in high-quality and engaging public art,” said Marion Mayor Nicolas AbouAssaly. “The Uptown Artway demonstrates our commitment to creating amazing public spaces that enhance the quality of life we enjoy.”