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Parts of Court Ave. to close to vehicle traffic Friday night for entertainment zone

Starting May 21, parts of Court Avenue will close to vehicle traffic to make room for an "entertainment zone" on the weekends.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Weekends in downtown Des Moines are about to change for the better, officials announced Friday. 

Starting May 21, parts of Court Avenue will close to vehicle traffic to make room for an "entertainment zone" on the weekends.

It's all part of an effort to bring a "new entertainment experience" to the downtown area, including live music and new vendors. 

So, how will it work? 

A two-block area of Court Ave. surrounding 3rd Street will be fenced off to traffic from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays starting May 21 through Sept. 4.

This closure will create an entertainment zone for those 21+ to enjoy live music and vendors as well as their favorite bars and restaurants. The road closures will allow establishments to expand patio seating and provide more room for outdoor entertainment.

Credit: Polk County
Map shows the area of downtown Des Moines that will be closed to vehicle traffic from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays and Sundays from May 21 through Sept. 4.

There won't be any charge for folks to enter the entertainment district, but visitors 21+ will be asked to show their photo ID before entering. 

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“This is a similar approach that other cities including Milwaukee and Kansas City have in place at popular bar and restaurant districts and have proved to be successful. Additionally, the added security will ensure patrons feel safe while visiting the Court Avenue district," said Polk County Supervisor Tom Hockensmith in a release. 

It's important to note the road closures will prevent access to some on-street parking, but vehicles will be allowed to leave the area once gates are in place, according to officials. 

Visitors after 9 p.m. will be asked to park at a nearby parking ramp, which will include added security cameras. 

“This plan offers a safe, expanded entertainment atmosphere so guests and visitors can enjoy our beautiful downtown area with a more pedestrian-friendly environment,” said Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie.

Earlier Friday, Cownie lifted the mask mandate in the city

Polk County and the City of Des Moines partnered with The Greater Des Moines Partnership, Catch Des Moines and Court Avenue District to come up with the new plans. 

RELATED: LIST: Iowa adapting to CDC's latest guidance on mask-wearing

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