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Downtown Revitalization Public Meeting

By Staff | Dec 8, 2011

A public meeting to discuss potential downtown revitalization has been scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 13, at the Pizza Ranch, downtown Emmetsburg. Business owners will meet at 7:15 a.m. for breakfast and coffee with the meeting at 7:30 a.m.

“This meeting is an outgrowth of the downtown assessment we held last year,” said Steve Heldt, Emmetsburg Community Developer. “They recommended we come up with a plan and we are presenting an Iowa Department of Economic Development program to Emmetsburg business owners.”

The Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED) program focuses on downtown revitalization activities as an eligible project category for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding. This funding opportunity is intended to assist communities in demonstrating innovative, cutting edge solutions to make Iowa’s communities more environmentally, economically and culturally viable. IDED is seeking downtown revitalization projects that demonstrate innovative, out-of-the-box, comprehensive, and replicable approaches to sustainability.

Emmetsburg has plans to apply for half-million dollars in CDBG grant funding. Aaron Sedey, planner with Northwest Iowa Planning and Development, has been retained to be the CDBG administrator. He will lead the Dec. 13 meeting in Emmetsburg.

“We have spent funds on building removal and now it’s time to look at our existing buildings,” said Heldt. “This program has funding available to help existing buildings so we would no longer be in the position to take buildings down.”

Derek Lord, Community Investments Team Leader, was in Emmetsburg last week to explain the program to community leaders. He explained that downtown revitalization projects must have long-lasting benefits for the downtown area that contribute toward a comprehensive downtown revitalization effort. The projects must also take place in the downtown or historic commercial center of the community.

According to Heldt, a core group has been meeting to determine the area that will be included. The area must have broad downtown district impact, a significant impact on significant structures, focus on historic preservation and may also focus on walk-ability, bike-ability, transportation choices and complete streets.

One of the CDBG national objectives is to “prevent or eliminate slum or blight,” which Heldt explained might include peeling paint or a need for tuck pointing. He noted that projects funded from the downtown revitalization fund must be part of a comprehensive downtown revitalization effort.

Time is of the essence to meet the grant application deadline of Jan. 15. Details will be explained at the Dec. 13 meeting.

“If the city receives the half-million dollar CDBG grant, there is a requirement for a match,” said Heldt. “It could be anywhere from $100,000 to $250,000 from different organizations. Those options are under discussion. And, if the grant is secured for facade improvement, there must be involvement from participating businesses. That percentage is also yet to be determined.”

Participation in the downtown facade improvement project will be on a first-come, first-served basis in the targeted area.

Business owners are encouraged to attend the 7:30 a.m. meeting next Tuesday, Dec. 13, at The Pizza Ranch, downtown Emmetsburg.