Iowa City provides facade grants

By Pat Shaver

IOWA CITY—Visitors to downtown Iowa City may start noticing building improvement projects.

Through its Building Change program, the city selected several projects for façade renovation, fire suppression sprinklers and other improvements. The projects, located downtown and in the North Side Marketplace, are expected to improve the ability to lease underused space.

The projects include:

The former Gilda’s Imports store, 30 S. Clinton St., which will undergo a build-out of second and third floor apartments, sprinklers and façade renovation. The total project will cost $621,750 and the city will contribute $37,729.

At Bo-James restaurant, 118 E. Washington St., plans are for a façade renovation. The total project cost is $100,000 and the city is giving a $40,000 grant.

Atlas Restaurant, 127 Iowa Ave., plans a façade renovation for an outdoor awning/umbrella. The project will cost $119,260 with the city contributing $47,704.

Work at Quinton’s Bar & Deli, 215 E. Washington St., includes façade renovation, aligning the front of the building with adjacent buildings. The project will cost $69,332 and the city is contributing $27,733.

Panchero’s Mexican Grill, 32 S. Clinton St. will complete a façade renovation on the Washington Street side of the building. The city will contribute $19, 857 of the $66,190 project.

The Chait Gallery building, 218 E. Washington St., will receive a façade renovation that includes window work. The city will give $8,028 for the $48,698 project.

Active Endeavors, 138 S. Clinton St., will be funded for window replacement at the front of the store. The $16,000 grant from the city will help fund the $47,000 project.

The Yacht Club building, 13 S. Linn St., will receive a façade renovation and fire suppression improvements. The grant from the city has yet to be determined.

Spending authority is granted to the city manager for projects up to $50,000, so the renovations and improvements do not require approval from the city council.

Businesses were notified of the program in February, said Wendy Ford, the city’s economic development coordinator. The city received 16 proposals in March, totaling about $1.3 million in projects, which were narrowed down to eight by a committee with representatives from the city’s economic development, community development, urban planning and housing and inspection services departments.

The city’s economic development committee approved contributing about $197,000 to eight different projects during its April 17 meeting.

The projects will likely improve buildings’ fire safety, property values and the city’s tax base and appearance of the downtown area, she said.

“What we’ve seen from this is that there’s a strong desire for other similar projects,” Ms. Ford said.

The money for the grants will come from the city’s Economic Development Opportunity or Community Development Block Grant Economic Development funds. Whether the city decides to continue to make funding available in the next fiscal year for the program hasn’t been decided, Ms. Ford said.

These types of improvements are part of the city’s strategic plan that was adopted in 2012. The plan includes promoting growth of the downtown area that builds on the vibrancy of the region.

Either Iowa City Economic Development Committee, or preferably, the city’s economic development committee.