Jefferson receives $500,000 grant for downtown façade rehabs

Sixteen storefronts in Jefferson’s Main Street district will be improved with an eye to historic integrity with financial help from a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant awarded by the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA).

Notification of the grant award was received by city officials Tuesday. “This is great news,” city administrator Mike Palmer said. “It’s the next step from the Streetscape project. We fixed up the street, and now it’s time to do what’s behind it.”

The entire project will total $1 million, with half being the CDBG, $250,000 in city funds, and a total of $250,000 paid by building owners.

The application was spearheaded by Jefferson Matters: Main Street. “We are very excited for this project as we have seen the powerful impacts this has made on other Main Street communities “ said Jefferson Matters: Main Street board president Jamie Daubendiek. “This will be a long, extensive process, but the end results will be worth the hard work needed to complete the CDBG. A lot of great things are happening in Jefferson and this will be another piece to the puzzle that makes living here so great.”

The project will address only the front of buildings, and all work must reflect conceptual designs prepared by Franks Group as part of the application. Participating businesses are Muir Embroidery, the Masonic lodge, John’s Appliance, Royal Jewelers, Greene County Abstract, Unger Insurance, The Printer’s Box, Addie’s, Homestead Coffee & Bakery, Greene County Historical Museum, Treasure Chest, Doc’s Stadium, Don’s Ace Hardware, Meythaler Photography, Fudge’s Flower Shop and MacDonald Insurance.

The Main Street program is designed to strengthen the community through historic preservation, and this Community Development Block Grant will definitely be a game changer for Jefferson’s Main Street district.  Together with the city of Jefferson, those 16 building owners who made the commitment to this project, and our architect Peter Franks, this will make a big difference in the downtown. Jefferson Matters: Main Street is excited to be involved,” Jefferson Matters program director Peg Raney said.

Actual construction work will not begin until 2017.

IEDA awarded a total of $19.6 million in CDBG funds for 59 community investment projects. The federally funded grants were awarded for community facilities, infrastructure improvements, downtown revitalization and single family owner-occupied housing rehabilitation.

“Strategic investments like these federal funds allow us to make in Iowa’s smaller communities are assisting all areas of our state to be development-ready,” said Debi Durham, director of the IEDA. “As a result of these projects, thousands of Iowans will see infrastructure improvements, rehabilitated housing, new community facilities and exciting enhancements in their downtowns.”

These funds enable communities to make needed improvements to water and sewer systems, improve housing conditions for low-income homeowners, provide facilities for disabled and at-risk individuals, and make transformative improvements to their downtowns.

Owner-occupied housing rehab not funded: Not included in the list of funded applications was a one submitted by Region XII Council of Governments for owner-occupied housing rehabilitation in the city of Jefferson. The city had committed $15,000 in matching funds; the total grant request was for $238,500.

IEDA received 124 CDBG applications totaling $36.3 million in funding requests.  The grants are awarded based on benefit to low- and moderate-income persons, slum and blight elimination, financial need, project impact and readiness, and commitment of local resources to the project.

The Community Development Block Grant program is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). IEDA is responsible for administering the CDBG funds in the non-metropolitan areas of the state. Applications are solicited annually, usually during the fall.

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