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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Grant to partially finance downtown building renovation

The grant will help fund renovation of a building located on Fourth Avenue. Photo by Mahira Faran.

The Beyer Block buildings in downtown Grinnell are about to get major upgrades. The city of Grinnell recently received a $100,000 grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) to rehabilitate the buildings, both owned by the same proprietor and located on the 800 block of Fourth Avenue, just west of the Jewel Box Bank.

Grinnell was one of 18 cities to receive money from the grant at an awards ceremony at the Iowa Rural Development Council Rural Summit held at Hotel Grinnell on April 5 and 6.

The Community Catalyst Building Remediation Grant is a new grant awarded by the IEDA, which is designed to assist “communities with the redevelopment, rehabilitation or deconstruction of buildings to stimulate economic growth or reinvestment in the community,” according to the IEDA’s website.

Funding from the grant is restricted to the rehabilitation of one commercial building or two adjacent buildings owned by the same entity, and 40 percent of the funds awarded were given to small communities of less than 1,500 people.

The Beyer Block buildings were identified by the mayor’s Downtown Improvement Task Force as viable candidates for renovation, due to their location in the center of downtown, their size, their historic nature and their listing as some of the most endangered buildings in Iowa in 2015. The buildings had already been included in the city’s project to improve downtown facades, receiving new exteriors in 2017.

Laura Manatt, the executive director of Poweshiek Iowa Development and one of the leaders of the grant application project, said that the size of the buildings was one of the main reasons for their selection.

“It’s a lot bigger building. You know, a lot of buildings in downtown have been restored and are in pretty good shape. This one’s just a pretty big building in downtown, so that’s kind of why it was identified as a priority,” Manatt said.

In applying for the grant, the city brought in a historian to identify the historical significance of the buildings. They also laid out  expectations for the revitalized building and  its contribution to the health and vitality of downtown Grinnell.

The city, Chamber of Commerce and Poweshiek Iowa Development worked together to construct a new vision for the 9,117-square-foot property, including four two-bedroom apartments, two one-bedroom apartments and 2,100 square feet of commercial space.

The project, which is supposed to be finished within two years, is estimated to cost $2 million. The city will match the $100,000 provided by the grant, and state and federal historic tax credits and workforce housing tax credits will hopefully help to pay for a large portion of the rest of the project.

The city and Poweshiek Iowa Development hope that the renovation will attract investors, and that the six new apartments will help to address housing shortages in Grinnell.

“[This is] all in hopes that we can kind of get the building as far along as possible so that an investor could come in and invest in the building and a lot of the legwork is already done,” Manatt said.

The new mixed-use properties should be completed by 2020.

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