Project to repurpose hardware store to dining venue receives $75,000 grant

The renovation of the former Ace Hardware store on the northeast corner of the downtown square in Jefferson into a restaurant/tap room got one step closer Thursday when Jefferson Matters: Main Street was awarded a $75,000 grant for the project from the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA).

The business will be known as the Public House. Owners Amanda Bills and Addi Meyer, Jefferson Matters: Main Street director Peg Raney, city administrator Mike Palmer, House representative Phil Thompson, and Linda Eighmy represented Jefferson at the event held at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden.

Pictured at the Challenge Grant awards presentation are (from left) Jefferson Matters: Main Street director Peg Raney, owners of The Public House Addi Meyer and Amanda Bills, and city administrator Mike Palmer.

Thirteen other Main Street Iowa communities also received grants that will benefit local improvement projects, including upper story renovations, critical building stabilization and façade restoration and upgrades. A total of $1 million was awarded during the ceremony.

“The Public House was conceived after the Vision 2020 process of Greene County with a tap room/restaurant identified as a top priority. Amanda was involved in Vision 2020 and with extensive restaurant experience of both Amanda and Addi, a dream to open a restaurant in Jefferson, and the availability of the great location with historic significance, everything came together to make this happen,” Raney said.

“Upper story housing is in demand and these apartments will have a great view of the downtown. The grant will help with renovation of these apartments, replacing the façade panels with glass, and various projects in the restaurant area. Amanda has been involved in the economic vitality committee of Jefferson Matters: Main Street for several years. She appreciates the historic preservation elements supported by the Main Street program and this grant,” Raney continued.

The grants are administered through IEDA’s Iowa Downtown Resource Center and Main Street Iowa programs.The funding will be distributed in the form of matching grants to the selected Main Street programs. The estimated total project cost of these 14 projects is over $3.2 million.

“The Main Street Iowa Challenge grants have been instrumental in revitalizing Iowa’s historic main streets,” said IEDA and Iowa Finance Authority director Debi Durham. “Reinvesting in our traditional commercial districts is good business. It’s good for our economy and good for our state. These projects will bring new businesses and new residents to our downtown districts.”

Since the first Challenge Grants were awarded in 2002, approximately $10.6 million in state and federal funds have leveraged more than $59 million in private investment. Over the life of the program, 179 projects in 54 Main Street Iowa commercial districts across the state have received funding.

“Each project must provide at least a dollar-for-dollar cash-match,” said Michael Wagler, state coordinator for the Main Street Iowa program. “In total, these projects will actually leverage significantly more than the state’s investment into bricks and mortar rehabilitation. This investment will have a significant economic impact within each district.”

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