On Wednesday, November 6, 2013, a group of local business owners and citizens met with representatives from MSA Professional Services and Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) to discuss the City’s intent to apply for a Façade Improvement Grant.

The grant program, administered by IEDA and funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, provides funds for communities to improve the appearance of commercial buildings in their business districts.  Since its inception in 2009, the IEDA’s Downtown Revitalization Program has awarded over $15 million to 32 communities across the state.

A local grant, if awarded, would provide $500,000 in funds for façade improvements including items ranging from masonry work and tuck-pointing, to windows, doors and awnings.  To be eligible, a checklist is used to rate each building in the qualifying business district. Those judged to be in fair or poor condition are eligible for funding, provided the property owners commit matching funds for the project, typically in the neighborhood of 25 to 30 percent of the overall project’s cost.  Other sources for local matching funds could also be used, such as contributions from the City and/or low interest loans.

The City’s Façade Improvement Grant application is due to the State in mid-January, 2014, and the City will be notified of the grant award by early summer, 2014.  If funded, work on façade improvements would likely begin in the summer of 2015. The Façade Improvement Grant represents one of the first steps in the City’s overall Downtown Revitalization Plan, adopted earlier this year by the City Council. The 26-page plan can be viewed online at the city’s website under the “Business” tab on the home page of www.lpcia.com.