$500K in CDBG Funds will Redo City Storefronts
A host of storefronts along Jefferson Street in downtown Burlington will get a makeover with $500,000 the city received in Community Development Block Grant funds Thursday from the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
The money was awarded through the Downtown Revitalization fund. A total of $3.5 million was awarded to seven cities in Iowa with the following communities receiving the maximum of $500,000 apiece - Burlington, Charles City, Conrad, Elkader, Emmetsburg, Manning and West Union.
The city of Burlington's Development Department applied for the money in April. The money will be directed toward 15 properties in the 300 to 600 blocks along Jefferson Street. Property owners had to meet certain qualifications for the funds.
Steve Frevert, executive director for Downtown Partners Inc., said the funds will restore or rehabilitate facades and storefronts of buildings. The work will include making some storefronts more energy efficient through the replacement of doors and windows, plus restore the historic appearance of other structures.
The "bookend buildings" at 512 and 522 Jefferson St., purchased by Downtown Partners for $155,000 in April 2011, will be part of the historic restoration aspect and a bigger part of the project.
"It's going to be a very complicated process," Frevert said of working on so many buildings. "There will be a project manager that does all that."
The grant covers 70 percent of the construction cost on each individual property, while the owner picks up the remaining 30 percent.
"We have to get easements from all the property owners," said Amber VerKuilen, city planner for Burlington.
She said the city will send out requests for qualification to architectural firms, and later choose one to handle any schematic work. Bids will be sent to construction firms at a later date concerning the actual restoration or rehabilitation work.
The work on each storefront will vary depending on the facade's makeup such as wood, brick or other material.
VerKuilen expects the remodeling of the storefronts to extend into 2013.
"The Iowa Economic Development Authority's Downtown Revitalization Program is transforming downtowns and improving the business climate and quality of life for residents across the state," said Gov. Terry Branstad in a statement.
The funds are designated specifically for facade master plan projects of downtown businesses.
"Not only are these funds leveraging private investment and improving physical conditions, but participating communities are seeing new businesses and job creation on Iowa's Main Streets," Branstad said. "These seven communities have created local public-private partnerships that are making great things happen for their residents and all Iowans to enjoy."
The Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission will administer the paperwork for the project.
Thus far, the CDBG Downtown Revitalization Program has supported 19 community revitalization strategies and led to the improvement of 347 downtown properties.