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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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CENTRAL AVENUE CORRIDOR. A city-lead effort to "re-imagine" Central Avenue, the Corridor Project began as the SOUTHWEST ARTERIAL was being constructed in 2019 resulting in the removal most truck traffic from Central Avenue and expected completion of the BEE BRANCH Creek Watershed Flood Mitigation Project. (1)

The Corridor project focused on Central Avenue Corridor from 14th Street to 22nd Street. This connected Dubuque’s central downtown and Historic Millwork District to the city’s North End. It features a wide variety of historic buildings offering commercial and retail opportunities on the ground floor and residential spaces on upper floors. The project's goal was the economic revitalization of the Central Avenue Corridor through community engagement, educational outreach, and community-informed storefront and streetscape design. (2)

Central Avenue Corridor stakeholders include business owners, employees, patrons, residents, landlords, social service agencies, community leaders, the City of Dubuque, and partner agencies. (3)

The City of Dubuque entered into a collaborative relationship with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach (ISUEO). ISUEO assisted with outreach and community engagement efforts, asset mapping of buildings and businesses in the corridor, and identification of additional partnership opportunities. (4)

ISUEO brought students and faculty in the ISU College of Design’s “Seeing, Making, Doing – The Art and Design of Social Capital” course to Dubuque to operate a design studio in the corridor during the spring 2017 semester. Students from a variety of disciplines, such as studio art, graphic design, interior design, landscape design, business, sociology, journalism, and education, worked collaboratively throughout the semester on effective ways to engage communities, facilitate meaningful community discussions, and use art and design with culture to build goodwill and understanding among diverse populations. The studio served as a temporary “project headquarters” and was used to focus efforts on engaging local community members, brainstorming possibilities for a long-term creative placemaking strategy, and planning and implementing a cultural event for the neighborhood in late spring 2017. (5)

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds were used to offer low- or no-interest loans to “microenterprise businesses” in the corridor. Microenterprise businesses have five or fewer employees. To qualify, the business owner(s) must be low to moderate income. (6)

In early April 2017, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and College of Design hosted a cultural event to celebrate the stories and experiences on the Central Avenue Corridor. Free transportation to the event was provided by the City of Dubuque's Public Transit Department. (7)

By the spring of 2019 a group of new and established Central Avenue businesses in a two block section of Central had begun identifying themselves as being located in "The Curve," a sharp turn in Central near East 18th. This area was the focus of a city-led BUILD A BETTER BLOCK initiative held in September, 2018 which addressed such issues as establishing a better reputation for the area. Proposals were made to revert to two-way traffic, creation of a plaza on 18th Street and improved sidewalks and new streetlights. (8)

Officials announced in June, 2022 their plan to update the master plan. Originally the plan called for converting Central from 11th to 22nd streets from a one-way road to a two-way reducing the street width to expand the size of the sidewalks and greenery and closing East 18th at its intersection with Central to construct a plaza. Plans were put on hold during the PANDEMIC.

As reconsideration of the plan began, several property owners expressed their concern over the plan's impact on parking especially the creation of a plaza at the East 18th and Central intersection. (9)

On June 28th city officials outlined their redesigned plans for Central Avenue. The original plan had called for closing East 18th Street at its intersection with Central to construct a plaza. Two redesign options would create a smaller plaza. The first option would create a plaza that entirely blocked off access to Est 18th Street from Central although traffic could access the part of East 18th behind the plaza near White Street. The second option would create a one-way road next to the plaza that could direct vehicles on Central onto East 18th Street. (10)



1. Central Avenue Corridor Initiative," City of Dubuque, Online: https://www.cityofdubuque.org/2523/Central-Avenue-Corridor-Initiative

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

8. Montgomery, Jeff, "Central Businesses Ahead of 'The Curve,'" Telegraph Herald, May 21, 2019, p. 1

9. Kruse, John, "City Tweaks Development Plans for Central Avenue," Telegraph Herald, June 23, 2022, p. 1A

10. Kruse, John, "Central Details Plans for Central Avenue," Telegraph Herald, June 29, 2022, p. 1A