Downtown revitalization projects will continue in Manning with the latest announcement of a grant program that will continue to help building owners improve their facades.
Main Street Manning is offering a one-time $50,000 pool to an undetermined number of business owners’ projects in the city’s Main Street business district that successfully complete an application process.
A committee comprising Main Street Manning and city officials will choose the recipients, and any business in the Main Street district is eligible for the grant.
The tax increment financing funds are set aside from property-tax dollars in the district and must be used for projects in that same district. The $50,000 grant program will be available only once, said Main Street Manning Board President Ron Reischl, who is serving on the facade committee.
Main Street Manning previously offered a local facade grant program that awarded grants up to $2,000 to help businesses with signage and awnings before swinging into the city’s large-scale $800,000 downtown revitalization project, which saw 17 buildings’ facades renovated. Now, the TIF funding could fund additional larger projects.
“This is a continued revitalization of our downtown buildings, simply on a smaller basis,” Reischl said.
Building owners who were unable to participate in the larger downtown revitalization project could take advantage of this offering, but the funds are open to anyone who has a business in Manning’s Main Street district, Reischl said.
Those applying could also be eligible for a Challenge Grant from Main Street Iowa — in the past, the annual award has funneled $75,000 into several renovation projects in Manning.
Between the TIF-funded grant, the Challenge Grant and tax credits associated with the Manning business district’s recent placement on the National Register of Historic Places, a project conceivably could become much more affordable.
“That could result in a significant renovation of a building’s upstairs,” Reischl said.
Projects eligible for the grant must cost at least $5,000, and the grant could reimburse the building owner for up to half of the project cost. The project would need to be completed within one year of the businesses owner’s notification of the grant receipt. Applications are due by May 31, and the committee hopes to inform recipients they were chosen by June 9, Reischl said.
The grant application applies a scoring system to business owners’ requests — offering a range of points for a project description, the visual impact on the building and district, the effect on employment, revenue or residences downtown, the historical elements that would be protected during the renovation, the existence of project drawings and an indication of whether the project addresses structural integrity needs.
“We’ve tried to give (the committee) some ability to quantify it,” Reischl said. “We’re trying to add a level of fairness by having a scoring mechanism.”
The projects must involve the building facades’ front, side or back and can include just about any type of work, ranging from new windows to a complete facade renovation.
“We’re encouraging everyone to submit all their ideas,” Reischl said. “We may determine the larger ideas may be more appropriate to submit for the Challenge Grant.”
While applying, business owners must supply a letter from a bank indicating they either have funding for their project or are approved for financing, a project timeline, detailed estimated costs and a Central Business District building permit, which has to be received before the work is started. Those who receive the grant cannot begin work on the project until being notified.
A local historical preservation committee signs off on building permits in the downtown district, and organizers would work with building owners to preserve buildings’ historical aspects during the renovations.
For more information about the grant, contact Main Street Board Member Anna Irlbeck at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“This represents our ongoing efforts for preservation in our downtown district — preservation and economic expansion,” Reischl said.
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