By Elianna Novitch
A new position will focus its attention on downtown Iowa City in hopes of building the relationships of businesses, promoting the development of partnerships, and creating different events for the area.
The Iowa City Downtown District, a business association formed in in 2012, announced that Iowa City resident
Angela Winnike will take on the new position of Downtown Iowa City’s first official “nighttime mayor.”
The concept of the night mayor position has rapidly spread to cities across the world from London to San Francisco and Pittsburgh.
“The main focus of the position will be for me to be the liaison between the nighttime community [including the] bars, restaurants, any retailers that are open later in the evening and the city and Downtown District,” Winnike said. “I’ll be that person who communicates [with the nighttime community], and I’ll help create new marketing and events for night time to really help create a positive image of downtown.”
The nighttime mayor will help evolve downtown to make it more appealing for all members of the community.
“I think the creation of the nighttime mayor position is an excellent step to begin reaching out to the student population that may not find the typical night-life in the Downtown area attractive,” said Benjamin Nelson, the UISG City Council liaison and ex-officio member on the Downtown District board.
Nelson said the Downtown District’s goal is help foster an environment that is fun, safe, and attractive to all. Officials recognize there is a reputation and stigma that the downtown is exclusively for those who wish to drink alcohol.
“We want to be inclusive of people across all generations. I think that people have a mindset that downtown is for people who are younger like college students, and that’s not the case,” Winnike said. “I’m 34, and I realize that doesn’t make me really old, but I’m older than the average person downtown, and I love experiencing all of downtown. I want to get people my age and older to come down and enjoy places like Social Club or sit in Micky’s and play cards.”
Nelson said the Downtown District is actively striving to change that perception. To help facilitate that change, it created the nighttime mayor to plan events involving the whole downtown community.
“The creation of the position is an obvious win-win for both the businesses and the student body,” Nelson said. “More students and more families in the area means more potential customers, making the decision to create a nighttime mayor an obvious choice for local businesses.”
Winnike will be the voice of the downtown community and work on marketing the Iowa City nightlife to everybody.
“The position was created to give a voice and to represent a very big part of downtown which is the nightlife community,” Winnike said.
The overall goal of the Downtown District is to evolve and advance downtown.
“It’s a really diverse group of people and their interests really are in making downtown a really thriving place for anybody that lives, works, or does business downtown,” said Wendy Ford, the economic-development coordinator and ex-officio member of the Downtown District board.