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Creston grad partners with locals to redevelop blighted block of uptown

An empty lot at 120 N. Maple St. will be redeveloped into commercial and residential space in Spring 2021. Building renovations to 110 and 112 N. Maple St. will also be part of the project, with renovations on the existing buildings to being the following year. The project is spearheaded by the local charity, Urban Revitalization Growth for Everyone, and Uptown Investment Creston Group. More than 15,000-square feet of commercial and residential space is anticipated to feature street-level store fronts and 17 residential units.
An empty lot at 120 N. Maple St. will be redeveloped into commercial and residential space in Spring 2021. Building renovations to 110 and 112 N. Maple St. will also be part of the project, with renovations on the existing buildings to being the following year. The project is spearheaded by the local charity, Urban Revitalization Growth for Everyone, and Uptown Investment Creston Group. More than 15,000-square feet of commercial and residential space is anticipated to feature street-level store fronts and 17 residential units.

It was during a recent visit to his hometown when Addam Wall, a 2001 Creston Community High School graduate, said the idea to help redevelop a portion of Uptown Creston came to mind.

Wall, who works with construction and architectural partners in the St. Louis area, said he and his partners had been looking at for development opportunities in larger markets, such as St. Louis, New York, New Orleans and other cities, but found it difficult to break into those larger markets at this time. He recalled past development projects he was a part of during his first year of college that transformed dilapidated areas in Phoenix, New Orleans, Atlanta and St. Louis, which not only brought more residential options, but restaurants and business, as well.

“I really got to see what redoing a community or neighborhood could really bring. We wanted to bring that kind of experience ... seeing that transformation and then seeing if you could apply it to a small town, rural America uptown community, and have that same kind of [transformation],” he said.

Upon seeing the empty buildings and lot on the 100 block of North Maple Street, Wall said it reminded him of other historic renovations in St. Louis and New Orleans that had a similar look to Creston’s uptown.

“I thought, maybe historic tax credits might be able to get that development incentive that is missing ... and that what happened to that building wouldn’t happen to the next building and the next building and then all of a sudden you lose a whole city block due to lack of maintenance,” said Wall.

The ‘URGE’

Wall said he is not seeking to have developers from outside the area build in Creston and walk away with the profit, but, instead, wants to garner the buy-in of those that care about the once bustling business district’s revitalization.

The development, which would include building a new building at 120 N. Maple St., and renovating existing buildings at 110 and 112 N. Maple St., would be facilitated by Wall, but the project would be headed by a local charity that Wall is a part of – Uptown Revitalization Growth for Everyone – which also consists of local attorney Sam Baird, First National Bank President and CEO Randy Huewe, and Mayor Gabe Carroll.

The development on the 100 block of North Maple would be owned by URGE and a group of local investors – Uptown Creston Investment Group – for the first 10 years, after which the charity URGE would then dissolve, giving the majority of the stake to UCIG.

“The hope is that it creates a revolving fund for those ten years,” said Wall.

Wall said the income generated from the development would then be reinvested into more projects in the uptown area that promote growing the local economy, improving the infrastructure of the district and making it more viable to live, work and play in the uptown.

Wall said the idea to form a charity stemmed from individuals that were interested in being a part of redevelopment activity in Creston, but were not interested in a long-term investment.

“It helps cut down on the overall cost and local investors get a higher return,” said Wall.

What to expect

The development projects at 110, 112 and 120 N. Maple St., are recognized by locals as the former Van Gelder clothing store and Agnew buildings and the empty lot where DeCarlos’ Hobby Shop was once housed.

Construction is projected to being on the empty lot at 120 N. Maple St. in the spring of 2021 and the existing buildings at 110 and 112 N. Maple St. in the spring of 2022.

Current proposal for the entire development of the block include a total of 15,000-square feet, of which 1,800-square feet will be ground floor commercial spaces that will face the street. Wall expects a total of 17 residential units to be added, as well.

A website will be launched in the near future, which will have more information, such as renderings, floor plans and investment information. “A little bit of money aimed in the right direction can really make a tremendous impact,” Wall said.

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