By Paul Elwell
Iowa City locals will have the opportunity to own a piece of the city’s history.
Old clay bricks on the Pedestrian Mall, laid in the 1970s, will be replaced with new, higher-durability, concrete-based bricks starting this summer.
The city would like to salvage the bricks to keep them from the landfill and offset some of the building cost, and is allowing the public to purchase a brick to remember the recognizable downtown aesthetic.
Scott Sovers, Iowa City’s senior civil engineer, said the idea to sell the bricks came from a request at a public meeting.
“Since then, city officials started to think about it. We put out a survey to see what the interest was,” he said. “We got over six-hundred responses.”
The price of the bricks is still being determined by the city as they gauge interest from the public.
Sovers estimates one brick will cost around $1, with potential discounts if people were willing to buy in bulk.
Once renovations begin, the bricks will be available to purchase.
Several people have already tried to purchase bricks, some interested in using the bricks for personal projects, like backyard patios, Sovers said.
Others may want a brick as memorabilia, such as former University of Iowa students who have college memories in Iowa City’s downtown area.
Former Iowa City resident and UI alumni Beth Augspurger said she liked the idea of selling the bricks.
“The Ped Mall represents Iowa City, and all the fun times and memories that come with it,” she said. “I would probably buy one.”
The project to replace the brick first began in 2014, when the city hired a consultant to develop a master plan to repair some of the city’s infrastructure. The project was put on hold due to the repair of Washington St., which took priority, Sovers said.
The planning for the remodel was done by Genus Landscape Architects, based in Des Moines, after competing against six other design teams.
Angie Coyier, a project manager with Genus, said in an email to The Daily Iowan there are other improvements being made to the Ped Mall aside from thebrick replacement.
Improvements include a new water line, enhanced storm sewer systems, telecom infrastructure, and new electrical pole lighting.
The project will repave 67,000 square feet, including hundreds of thousands of bricks. The city will put plans and specs out to bid for private contractors within the next month, and will receive bids at the end of March and early April.
The base bid is expected to be roughly $6.8 million. Sovers said the new bricks will last for probably over thirty years.