The Ottumwa Courier


June 18, 2013

Storefronts to get a big facelift


Some facades in this block already have facade improvement under way, so combined with the expected improvements, by the end of the project, 93 percent of the block’s facades will be renovated.

“This is a tipping point for Ottumwa as far as I’m concerned,” said ORLF president and CEO Brad Little.

Little said not only will the project enhance downtown Ottumwa, but it provided an opportunity to meet the property owners. He also thanked Curtis Architecture for composing a “realistic budget” and communities who have received the grant in the past for giving Ottumwa tips, best practices and advice on how to avoid pitfalls throughout the process.

This project is in line with one of ORLF’s initiatives, Reclaim Main Street, Little said, which includes launching discussions about converting downtown’s one-way streets to two-way, establishing streetscape guidelines and revamping the city’s parking lots, Market Street Bridge and Capri V Theatre.

The city followed through on its commitment to the Iowa Economic Development Authority to establish collaboration between different community entities, multiple funding partners, investment by the property owners and a “wow factor” to obtain the grant.

Of the 12 property owners in that block, 10 agreed to participate. Klimek previously told the Courier that the remaining two property owners could not be reached. The buildings slated for facade reconstruction do not include those currently being renovated or those that have previously been renovated, including Market on Main, Appanoose Rapids Brewing Company and the KMGO building.

Since the state’s facade improvement program began in 2009, approximately 400 facades have been revamped across the state, each project totaling approximately $1 million.

“We look forward to making the 300 block the place to watch over the next 18-24 months,” Klimek said.

The city of Bloomfield obtained the grant in 2010 to rehabilitate 19 buildings around Bloomfield Square, which then spurred restoration of the courthouse tower.

— To follow reporter Chelsea Davis on Twitter, head to @ChelseaLeeDavis.



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