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Emmetsburg Proceeds With Facades Grant

March 8, 2012
by Jane Whitmore , Emmetsburg News

Emmetsburg is taking the next step to secure Community Development Block Grant funds for faade improvement. With a successful pre-application in hand, development of a full application is underway.

"Our strong pre-application made the first hurdle," said Steve Heldt, Emmetsburg Community Developer. "We are now preparing our full application for a half-million dollars in Community Development Block Grant funds. With New Shoots opening last week, we have seen what renovation can do for the downtown. We have 20 other buildings that could be improved. The faade improvement of architecture will be a wonderful addition for downtown Emmetsburg."

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds will be used to improve businesses in a designated historic district of downtown Emmetsburg.

The wheels were set in motion last December when business owners were invited to an informational meeting on the faade improvement program. A task force then identified an designated as "historic downtown Emmetsburg."

In this historic downtown area, 27 property owners submitted pre-applications totaling over $998,000 in improvements, according to Heldt. Property owners are looking at the history of their buildings, with the task of returning them to their original grandeur.

"We are so excited that this faade program is available to our businesses community," said Deb Hite, Executive Director of Emmetsburg Chamber of Commerce. "Not only will this program improve the appearance and integrity of the buildings, it shows that our businesses are committed to investing in our community."

CDBG Funding

Community Development Block Grant funding is a federal program, with specific requirements to be followed. One of those requirements is getting businesses designated as "slum and/or blight" in the targeted area. Emmetsburg is working with Council of Governments (COG) and architect Matt Barstad of Spencer.

"The COG has been secured to write the final grant and oversee the implementation of the funding," said Heldt. "Matt is familiar with the Secretary of Interior's design standards. And, we will be required to follow Iowa Green Streets criteria. The application must be submitted no later than April 27."

Heldt also pointed out that requirements state there will be one contractor to oversee the entire program. He noted that there can be several sub-contractors. The architect must also submit a plan for approval of environmental review.

The CDBG faade improvements application will be submitted later this month. Successful CDBG grant applicants will be notified this Spring.

"If we are successful, we will likely use this year to go through the federal requirements," said Heldt. "Construction would most likely not begin until 2013."

"Faade improvement is a great way to peak the interest of customers and tourists," said Deb Hite. "People are naturally curious when they see something new happening. The perfect example is New Shoots Farm Store, Bakery and Cafe. People all around are excited to come and see for themselves just what New Shoots is all about. By revitalizing our business district, we will enhance our opportunities for growth as we seek new businesses as well as new employees and new professionals to establish themselves here."

As stated, owners of 27 Emmetsburg business properties submitted pre-applications totaling $998,00 in improvements. If Emmetsburg is successful in its grant bid, roughly $900,000 will be available, according to Heldt. This amount includes the 25-percent match from property owners. The City of Emmetsburg, Emmetsburg Municipal Utilities and Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors also contributed to matching funds as outside sources.

A task force is being formed to assist with the CDBG faade improvements application.



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