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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Grinnell Applies for reinvestment act

As the Grinnell community continues to evolve, the city is taking strides to ensure support from the state government for further development. The city has recently completed its second application for the Iowa Reinvestment Act, which allows local governments in the state to apply for tax breaks for 25 acres of contiguous land in their area. The Act allows towns and cities to “reinvest” the sales and hotel tax revenue that would normally go to the state within their own area, without having to pay the state.

Grinnell applied for the Act last year in an attempt to improve the area closest to the interstate, including the Brownells facility. Because of a stipulation that says the area must include a project over $10 million, Brownells was included in plans. After this application was rejected, the city decided to take a new approach.

“We had a great project in my opinion, the missing piece of it was that it didn’t include our historic downtown and I think that’s ultimately one of the things that probably resulted in it not being funded,” said Grinnell City Manager Russ Behrens.

Behrens hopes that the new application, which includes building a new hotel where the existing community center is located and improving Central Park, will be more attractive to the state and bring more visitors downtown.

The scoring criteria for the Iowa Reinvestment Act.

The College plays a part in this year’s application as well, as the Alumni Recitation Hall and Admissions construction projects are included in the plans. These projects help the application reach the $10 million development mark and will result in greater improvement for both the town and College.

Part of the application also refers to improving the “zone of confluence” between campus and the town and making it more continuous.

“When they give prospective students a tour, they don’t take them anywhere but on campus. They don’t take them downtown, they don’t show them anything else in the community and it starts to make sense to let them know that there’s more in the community,” Behrens said.

Through the current plans, the city wants to make the area between campus and town more attractive to both prospective students as well as other visitors to the area.

Part of the funds received by Grinnell would also go towards building a new events center, the hotel mentioned above, and public improvement works in the downtown area and Central Park.

“If we were to be awarded, most of our projects would be able to move forward almost immediately. The development work on the events center is well advanced and we’ve applied for historic tax credits,” Behrens said.

Most of the plans for execution are already in place for the numerous planned projects included in the application.

“I would say most of [it] would get done in the next three years and then all of it would be done in five,” Behrens said.

The City has been following a 15 year plan that they are currently in the final phase of, and they hope that the Act will allow them to accomplish their previously determined goals.

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