Uptown Marion awarded $100K Main Street Iowa Challenge Grant

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) has awarded Uptown Marion – A Main Street Iowa District a $100,000 Main Street Iowa Challenge Grant for the restoration of the Coenen Building.

The historic Coenen Building, located at 1060 Seventh Ave., is situated between Marion’s City Square Park and Uptown Artway. Plans are to revitalize the exterior and interior to historic splendor, create a new home for The Marion Chocolate Shop, and provide two upper story housing units in the district. The building has been vacant since the 2020 derecho.

Owners of the Marion Chocolate Shop, Ben and Katy Davis, along with Cynthia Martin, purchased the Coenen building in June. The building will need a considerable amount of work including masonry work, new roof, awning repair, window and door restoration, and complete reconstruction of the interior spaces. The new space will offer the Marion Chocolate shop increased production efficiency and capacity as the business continues to grow.

“Ben Davis and his family have been great community partners and very involved in the success of Uptown since purchasing The Marion Chocolate Shop in 2021,” stated Uptown Main Street Director Brooke Prouty in a news release. “This project not only restores a historic building, but also grows and anchor business, creates housing, and has a significant economic impact to the community.”

Since the first Challenge Grants were awarded in 2002, approximately $14.6 million in funds have leveraged more than $68.3 million in private investment. Uptown Marion has received eight challenge grants since becoming an Iowa Main Street in 2013 for building restorations housing Uptown Snug, Brick Alley, Mix Sushi, Frydae, and upper-story housing.

“The Main Street Iowa Challenge grants help us revitalize and reinvest in our traditional commercial districts, which is good business,” said IEDA and Iowa Finance Authority Director Debi Durham. “It’s good for our economy and good for our state.”

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 10 projects is over $3.5 million.