Form-Based Codes Institute at Smart Growth America

Visioning & Zoning Code Update Wanted for Downtown Cedar Falls, Iowa

Submission Deadline: November 20, 2018, 5:00 pm (local time)


The City of Cedar Falls (pop. 40,000) is located along the Cedar River in northeast Iowa. It is home to the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), one of Iowa’s three publicuniversities. Historic Downtown Cedar Falls has a thriving Main Street with over 30 unique shops and boutiques, numerous restaurants and bars, hotels, offices, an active co- working/entrepreneurial center and a growing number of residential condominiums and apartments. Downtown is surrounded by older traditional neighborhoods laid out in a gridded street pattern. While the surrounding residential neighborhoods have a predominately single family character, there is a large demand for student rental housing and many older homes have been divided into apartments. Demand is also high among more permanent residents for intact homes with historic character located within walking distance of Downtown and UNI.
Increased development pressure for new housing and business opportunities in the Downtown and surrounding neighborhoods has prompted the need for updated zoning to guide future development in a manner that is consistent with the community’s vision. The City is interested in exploring the possibilities for new housing types to respond to changing demographics (millennials, empty nesters, retirees, etc.) and the demand for walkable urban living at a small city scale. The City has a traditional use-based zoning code, but is interested in exploring form-based zoning for the downtown area. There is a Central Business District Overlay zoning district that imposes additional standards and a design review process for new development within a defined area of the downtown. The City is seeking a qualified consulting firm to lead the effort to develop a detailed vision plan and an associated zoning ordinance for Downtown Cedar Falls and near neighborhoods as illustrated on the study area map, included in link. The study area includes the central business district (CBD) and areas surrounding the CBD that transition into the traditional residential neighborhoods to the west. It also includes the extended Main Street corridor and areas immediately south and northwest of downtown along the south side of the Cedar River. Minor adjustments may be made to the study area based on guidance from the Consultant and input from the City Council during goal setting for the project. This effort will serve as a demonstration project that may prompt similar visioning and zoning code updates in the future for other areas of the city.
Proposals must be received by Tuesday, November 20, 2018.  The full RFQ is available on the City of Cedar Fall’s website.