In the coming year, La Porte City’s Main Street district will be taking on a new look, thanks to a $480,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA). The City received notice of the conditional award in a letter from IEDA Director Deborah Durham last week. Actual funding will not be disbursed until the IEDA has received its final grant award from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The CDBG Downtown Revitalization Fund provides grants to communities for a variety of projects and activities contributing to the revitalization in historic city centers. In La Porte City the program will help fund façade improvements to privately owned buildings.
In addition to the requirement of meeting a Community Development Block Grant national objective, grant applications are evaluated based on a set of criteria:
-Positive impact on the community
-Readiness to proceed with the proposed activity and likelihood that the activity can be completed in a timely fashion;
-Level of community support for a downtown revitalization effort;
-Degree to which downtown revitalization fund assistance would be leveraged by other funding sources and documentation of applicant efforts to secure the maximum amount of local support for the activity;
-Degree to which the activity meets or exceeds the minimum building and site design criteria established by IEDA to be eligible for funding;
-Level of planning completed for comprehensive downtown revitalization efforts.
A total of 14 downtown addresses are currently slated to participate in the façade improvements made possible by the Community Development Block Grant. In addition to the $480,000 grant provided by the federal government, the City of La Porte City will contribute up to $150,000 in matching funds, leaving property owners responsible for paying the remaining 25% of the improvements to their buildings, a total cost currently estimated at around $160,000.
Construction projects related to the façade improvements will likely not begin for another 9-12 months. The acceptance of federal funding carries certain requirements that will dictate how the City can proceed with the overall design and construction of the project. As the project moves forward, the individual property owners who initially committed to the program will have an opportunity to review the plans and decide if they wish to remain involved. Because the size of the grant was determined, in part, by the number of participating property owners, any withdrawls from the program would likely reduce the amount of federal dollars and matching City funds contributed.
Additional information and training related to the administration of the block grant will be made available to the City at a meeting in Ankeny later this month.