Last week, members of the Martin Gardner Architecture firm met with owners of select Main Street properties to begin the process of making façade improvements made possible by a $480,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) awarded to La Porte City by the Iowa Economic Development Authority. 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 the coming weeks, architects will develop conceptual drawings and begin to determine the estimated costs associated with the work. By late October, it is anticipated the architects will return to La Porte City for another round of meetings with property owners to present their preliminary designs and cost estimates.
Once final revisions have been completed, they will be reviewed by the Iowa Economic Development Authority/State Historic Preservation Office to ensure the designed improvements will have no adverse effect on any historically significant buildings that are participating in the façade grant program. This is an important step in the process to establish a consistent “look” throughout each city block that has participating businesses.
The projected timeline estimates that project bidding could be awarded as soon as March 2016, with construction work to begin shortly thereafter. The grant awarded to the City is expected to pay approximately 50% of the total cost. The City of La Porte City has also committed $150,000 to the downtown façade program, leaving property owners responsible for approximately 25% of the improvements made to their buildings. Not every property owner in La Porte City’s downtown district has chosen to participate. Some property owners are ineligible to participate because of their role in the administration of the grant funds.