An Oskaloosa project has been selected as one of only 14 across the state to receive funding through the prestigious Main Street Iowa Challenge Grant.
Jennifer Main, a local business and property owner, plans to use the grant to help fund the creation of an apartment above her Edward Jones office at 111 High Avenue East, also known as the Dixon Block, in downtown Oskaloosa. The Dixon Block is a contributing building to the Historic District and retains the beauty of the grand bay window which overlooks the town square.
Current plans for the apartment include two bedrooms, two bathrooms, full kitchen and laundry, new furnace and water heater, living and dining areas, a rear deck, and exterior alleyway access. Construction on the project is set to begin in early 2018, and is anticipated to be completed within a two year time frame.
Creation of upper story housing has been identified as a top priority of Main Street Oskaloosa/Iowa, and the City of Oskaloosa. The Comprehensive Housing Needs Assessment completed in May of 2017, indicates a need for an additional 113 market-rate rental units, a larger demand than any other housing type.
Emily Brown, Oskaloosa Main Street Director, sees the downtown district as the perfect place for these types of apartments. “Our district has huge potential for these types of units. Between that and the wonderful incentives offered through programs like this one, it’s a no-brainer. One of our top priorities is to help facilitate as many upper story housing projects in the downtown area as we can over the next few years to fill the need. ”
Main’s project is not the first in the community to be selected to receive Main Street Iowa Challenge Grant funds. Other local projects funded by the grant include Trolley Place (2009), and the recently completed McMillen Building renovation, which includes a first floor commercial space and four second floor rental units (2015). Main’s project will receive the full $75,000 grant. In all, Oskaloosa has received over $225,000 in funds through the Challenge Grant program.
“The Main Street Iowa Challenge grants have proven to be catalysts for the revitalization of Iowa’s historic main streets,” said IEDA Director Debi Durham. “These projects demonstrate the ongoing financial commitment the people of our state – both our elected officials and private citizens – have made to the revitalization of our historic downtown districts. Rehabilitated downtown buildings create opportunities for new business and new residences in the core of our communities.”
“Each project must provide at least a dollar-for-dollar cash-match. In total, these projects will leverage three times the state’s investment into bricks and mortar rehabilitation. These projects will also have a significant economic impact within each district and have a direct impact on each community’s downtown revitalization efforts,” explained Main Street Iowa State Coordinator Michael Wagler.
The Challenge Grant program is funded through an appropriation from the Iowa Legislature. Since the first appropriation in 2002 through 2016, approximately $6.8 million in state and federal funds have leveraged over $45 million of private reinvestment. Over the life of the program, 138 projects in 49 Main Street Iowa commercial districts across the state have received funding.
“We are extremely grateful this grant program is offered. It has and continues to have a tremendous economic impact in our community” said Brown. “We are very excited to see this project come to fruition.”
The IEDA official press release featuring a complete list of grant recipients can be found at the following address: Iowa Economic Development.
Oskaloosa Main Street’s mission is to enhance downtown Oskaloosa as an attractive, unified and
economically sound commercial district by preserving the architectural heritage and communicating a