Banner Home Furnishings owner Ric O’Leary was unaware that the building he owns and operates his business from was named in the plan. He said while he isn’t surprised, he has no intent to move his business in the foreseeable future.
“I understand why they would pick this building. It’s a beautiful building with phenomenal views of the river. But I’m selling furniture here now,” O’Leary said.
Members of the Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District II, which taxes downtown business owners to improve the area, were consulted on what buildings revitalization would have the most effect on downtown.
John Eisenman, president of the SSMID II, sees the amendment as a means to continue the redevelopment that’s taken place in downtown.
“I think it’s a positive thing to be looking down the road. It’s good to have potential projects and I think it’s a pretty good list. Those are, should we call them, significant projects,” Eisenman said. “I look at this as a partnership between the SSMIDD II and the city to keep development and exciting things happening downtown.”
The amended plan also covers the development agreement between the city and Cedar Rapids-based development group Frantz-Hobart for the Wilson building.
City officials offered Frantz Hobart a 95 percent tax increment finance rebate not to exceed $1.26 million over the course of a decade. Without amending the urban renewal plan, the city couldn’t move forward with the project.
Rather than an upfront cash incentive, the city will provide a “backstop” cash incentive to be used only if the development was not rented at 100 percent. The city would be responsible for up to six units for 10 years at $800 per month per unit. The maximum risk for the city in providing the backstop would be $576,000 across the same 10-year period.
The amendment also calls for $1.5 million in improvements to bolster the stock of second floor residential units in downtown. The city expects to provide financial assistance to property owners that would like to convert upper floors to residential space to help pay for ADA improvements and sprinkler requirements.
Improvements to public structures such as street lights, sidewalks, landscaping and the Clinton Public Library also are on the city’s sights.