Students from Iowa State University have recently partnered with the City of Adel for their Masters of Community and Regional Planning (MCRP) Studio Class. Each fall semester, the class incorporates a community-based project that provides real-world experience using the skills learned throughout the classroom. With the help of this year’s professor, Monica Haddad, the class chose to work with the City of Adel, where they proposed three possible projects for the Downtown Adel area: The Bricks, Business and Buzz Concept, The Small Town Preservation Concept and the Sustainable Mobility Concept.


“Last spring, I wanted to find a real client for my students. I believe the best way to learn what planners do is to experience conducting community participation events, facing deadlines, practicing public speech, and writing a plan for real residents,” Haddad said. “I wanted a location that was close to ISU campus, yet also had some interesting features. Adel is very unique because it is growing and close to the metro but still has a small town feeling.”


The current studio class is composed of approximately 11 students from various backgrounds and various undergraduate degrees. Together, the class based each proposed scenario off of feedback they received from online surveys and surveys conducted at the 2019 Adel Sweetcorn Festival. The students also researched aspects of community development and examined relevant case studies in order to determine how different elements might fit in with the Downtown Adel location.


“I wanted to have a better understanding of the work that I was engaged in. So, I decided to apply to the MCRP at Iowa State University,” MCRP student Sarah Constable Runkel said. “Professor Haddad has been a great mentor for this project. She allows us to have the freedom for creativity and provides guidance on how to turn our ideas into viable parts of the plan.”


Once completed, each of the three scenarios were then presented at a City of Adel Downtown Concept Open House on Oct. 29 and were backed with examples of how they have successfully impacted other local and national towns. Additional feedback on which plan and which elements the community felt should be a priority was also gathered at the event, after which the Bricks, Business and Buzz concept was chosen as the plan to implement.


“We are really happy with the turnout and the feedback we received. Bricks, Business and Buzz aims to utilize Adel’s recent population increase to fuel economic growth and turn the downtown into a central hub for the entire county while preserving the historic atmosphere,” Runkel said.


As part of the Bricks, Business and Buzz plan, the class proposed to preserve the historic atmosphere of Downtown Adel by completing renovations, completing improvements and encouraging tourism. They also proposed that by being attractive to new businesses, retaining current businesses and revitalizing the downtown area, the local community will be able to increase employment opportunities. The plan, then, ends with addressing the vitality of the downtown area by proposing the expansion of shopping, programming events and advertising in order to maximize its everyday activity.


“I am really excited about the expansion of Downtown Adel to include the Raccoon River on the east side as well as the integration of the Raccoon River Trail. These components could have a positive impact on the economic development of Downtown Adel,” Runkel said. “Our beautification strategies are not only for aesthetics. They will also help reduce runoff and pollution from entering the Raccoon River.”


The Iowa State University students worked to incorporate the most recent feedback into their Bricks, Business and Buzz framework. The finalized plan will then be proposed to the Adel community at 6 p.m. on Dec. 17 in the community room of the Adel Public Library, with the City of Adel and Adel Partners Chamber. From there, it will be up to the city to incorporate the plan.


“One thing that is important to highlight is that they are going to develop their scenarios but the residents have a lot of ideas. We are going to have the [Bricks, Business and Buzz] scenario as the main scenario but the students will try to incorporate ideas from the other ones in a way that is not going to modify the main vision,” Haddad said.