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Organizers, businesses reflect on takeaways from the new Court Avenue entertainment district

Polk County Supervisor Tom Hockensmith said the district is a way to provide a safe and fun environment for people on Court Avenue.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Saturday, Sept. 4, is the last day of the new Court Avenue entertainment district.

Polk County Supervisor Tom Hockensmith said the district came about as a way to provide a safe environment for people on Court Avenue and hopefully attract more people downtown.

"We don't want this place to turn into a ghost town," said Hockensmith, "That sometimes happens in cities in those zones when they start having problems."

The Court Avenue area saw three shootings from April to June, prompting community leaders to act.

"We wanted to have a more festival-type atmosphere in a setting people felt was safe and inviting," said Hockensmith.

The first weekend of the entertainment district kicked off on May 21 and since then, no one has been injured in a shooting on Court Avenue.

RELATED: Des Moines police investigate 3rd shooting around Court Avenue District since April

RELATED: Gunshot fired by security guard inside Court Avenue entertainment district Saturday night

Fallon Fasanella, the general manager of Blue Sushi Sake Grill, said the district attracts a new crowd, but it's not perfect.

"The concert starts at 8 or 8:30 and there's not a lot of people out there," said Fasanella, "I think they could put the fences up and get started later."

Hockensmith hopes they can make changes over the long term, but in the near future, he hopes to extend the district past Sept. 4 as scheduled and possibly have it stick around in October.

"There are very informal discussions going on about extending," said Hockensmith.

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