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Creston explores facade project

The city of Creston is exploring a community development block grant (CDBG) to get additional funding to update building facades throughout the downtown area.

The grant, which has been around most of the past decade can give the town $500,000 to assist in upgrading areas that are deemed part of a slum and blight criteria.

A meeting last Thursday was held by the city, Southern Iowa Council of Governments (SICOG), an architect for the potential project and business owners to discuss the program and the next steps in the application process.

Applying for the grant requires a detailed breakdown of which area will be receiving the upgrades, business owners’ approval and cost estimates. Each application will be scored by three people with the averages of those scores being the final total. Each score is based on eight scoring factors on a one-to-five scale.

Forty points is the highest score an application can receive. However, any application that scores under 25 points is unlikely to be considered for the grant.

"It's not so much that you’re going to apply and not get the money, but it is a very difficult application," said Jeremy Rounds, a regional planner for SICOG. "There is a lot of work involved.”

Rounds expects his office alone to spend hundreds of hours putting together the application.

The upgrade amount allowed for each individual building is not restricted under a set price, but is designed to address obvious needs of concern.

"If the building has peeling paint and missing mortar and bricks that are loose in the side of the building, the grant would pay for that," said Rounds. "It’s limited by what needs are there. Wishlist items such as like, ‘well my building is red but I want it to be green,’ it’s not really going to do that kind of thing."

Rounds expects the grant to be around 50-percent of the funding involved in the project. The city and business owners are expected to post a match to the grant, but there is no required number. Percentage breakdown between business and the city is also to be determined.

"At this time, we are far from figuring out how much the city is going to put into the project," said Rounds. "Until we know exactly which building are going to participate we really won’t know that until the end of the year."

Rounds estimates the project will cost somewhere in between $800,000 and $900,000.

Eighty-nine buildings were placed on the initial survey and the project is aimed towards the traditional downtown area “between Oak Street to the alley between Pine and Montgomery (streets),” said Rounds.

Thirty-one businesses in total were invited to the meeting. However, public promotion brought others in who were interested. Business owners were given a chance to fill out a statement of interest form. Business owners have until October 5 to turn in those interest forms.

Since the project is in the initial phases, Rounds said people should stay alert for announcements over the next couple months.

“Things are going to be developing over the next few months, not a whole lot is going to happen over the next week or two, but by early November we’re going to have a lot better idea of where this is going,” said Rounds. “By then, we will have probably decided if or where we are going to divide up the district, which might be of interest to people.”

More information will be available in future editions of the News Advertiser.

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