Iowa City is rapidly changing. In the 13 years I’ve lived here, I’ve watched businesses come and go, but it seems that the pace has accelerated over the last couple years. Developers are having a ball, it appears, with new buildings being quickly erected in the place of the old, and even newer developments being planned out and proposed for the years to come.

Since I can’t sleep, despite my best efforts, I thought I’d give my out of town friends an opportunity to see some of the changes that I have caught in my viewfinder. These are in no particular order and are only chipping at the iceberg of change in this town. (This isall code for “I am going to bitch about my town for a bit.”)

In previous summers, this creek has overflowed its banks and made the Co-Op put up its flood walls in defense. Now it’s barely a muddy trickle. Even the usual ducks have found better places to hang out.

1. This isn’t really a permanent change in the town (I hope), but it has been as  hot, to quote a friend, “as satan’s scrotum”. Today it was 103 degrees. We’ve been in a heat wave so long, I don’t even hear weathermen refer to it as that anymore.  It is 4:40am as I type this, and it’s 75 degrees — this is chilly compared to recent nights that never dropped below 85. We have had virtually no rain all summer. For quite some time, people have been saying we’re on the edge of a drought. There is no edge, in my opinion. The grass is brown and crispy. Flowers are barely surviving despite people watering them in some desperate attempt to look like Iowa as opposed to Tucson.  The creeks are so low that they seem to be ashamed that their mud and rocks are lying out naked for all to see. And 4 hours east of here, in Chicago, it’s been pouring.  So allegedly it was going to thunderstorm all night tonight. I watched lightning tease us from the dark sky…but so far, nothing. To add insult to injury, Iowa sweet corn is suffering, too.

College Green Park isn’t really green. We need rain. We also need daily highs lower than the upper nineties/low-100s.











2. The Old Red Avocado site is now the New Concrete Box site. It’s shaping up to be super ugly and utilitarian. They haven’t even left any space for landscaping or anything that resembles the neighborhood around it. It’s going to be a concrete building along a concrete sidewalk with astrip of grass along the curb that makes a Brazilian wax look bushy. No trees, no flowers, no bushes, character or life. Before too long, the entrances to this building will be adorned with squashed cigarette butts and trash. Mark my words. It’s not going to further the image of Iowa City as a pretty Midwestern metropolis by any stretch of the imagination.

Are they building a strip mall? A car repair place? No, they’ll be lovely luxury condos. But don’t expect any fancy crap like grass or flowers. They’d die in this heat anyway.

3. Speaking of luxury condos, who wouldn’t want to live in one next door to one of the noisiest venues in town. Now, I love Gabe’s, but you couldn’t pay me to live next door to them. But I am sure the developers thought of this and threw some extra soundproof insulation in those fancy, destined-to-be-expensive walls. riiiiight. So next time you’re in the awesome beer garden at Gabe’s, look up. There will be a tiny little rectangle, through which you can see the sky.

(I am also curious to see if the tenants get rowdy from their balconies over the beer garden and start shit with Gabe’s patrons below. This will not end well.)

Gabe’s must feel really inadequate right about now.

4. This I am indifferent about: The Chef’s Table is no more. After years (was it years?) of walking by and seeing the freshly set tables with no one dining at them, the lights are off for good. The creme brulee was worth fighting over, but the one meal I ate there cost about half my rent money for that month. So Adios, Chef’s table. Your delicious smells will torture my broke ass no more. The only thing that really makes me sad are the jobs that don’t exist anymore.

When I moved here, this was Dick Blick’s location. I loved going in there, wandering around selecting impulse buys.


5. I will end on a happy note as a lead-in to my next post, which will be all the new things that make me happy in this town.  Now, I haven’t tried this place out yet, but I am excited over there being a new restaurant that serves something besides pizza and sandwiches. In fact, if they are open as I scurry off to work this morning, I am going to get a salad the size of my head. (tummy’s rumblin’!)  Heirloom salads, you better deliver or I am going to go back to bitching.

I have no problem judging an entire establishment on the quality of its Greek salad.

That’s plenty for now. Time to don my scrubs and head to the hospital (A place that is morphing as fast as everything else here…maybe faster……I’d better grab my camera.)



  1. the Red Advocado site is just a shame. really, as you said, the condos are not going to do anything to brighten up the homey, creative vibe that used IC used to be awash in. I remember when Dick Blick was where you said and when Vortex used to be downtown. (other things too, probably!) 😉 and i remember when downtown felt filled with magic for me. there is still magic down there, but it seems to have a few layers of crud on it now.

    haven’t been to the salad place either. would love to go! 🙂


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