State grant boosts downtown project

CLINTON — A downtown Clinton rehabilitation project for a structure on South Second Street has received grant funding from the state of Iowa.

A building at 512 S. Second St. has been the subject of the project at the hands of the Downtown Clinton Alliance, and it was announced Thursday that the initiative will now receive $100,000 as part of Gov. Kim Reynolds' "Catalyst Funding to Rejuvenate Downtowns Across Iowa" program. The building sits between Deb Weise's Bookkeeping and Tax and Black Relic Tattoo, and in the future will feature commercial space on the first floor and market-rate, two-bedroom apartments on the second floor.

With the project slated to cost a little more than $170,000, the $100,000 state grant has put a major spark in the initiative, according to DCA Executive Director Karen Rowell.

"This grant will literally get us moving faster," Rowell said Friday after the grants were announced. "This was originally looking like a three- or four-year project, but with this chunk of funding working out for us, we think we can get the building finished by the end of the year. That's how important this is for us."

According to Rowell, the first-floor commercial space has already received interest from business owners, though nothing is close to finalization at this point.

Clinton city officials approved the organization's request to apply for the grant in early October 2018, along with pledging an additional $25,000 towards the rehabilitation efforts. Another $25,000 could come from the city's Self-Sustaining Municipal Improvement District, totaling $150,000 in outside funding for the project. Rowell told the council in September 2018 that the building needed quite a bit of work, and now the cost alleviation for that work is rolling in.

And any time a downtown building can be saved, the work is worth it, Rowell said.

"Soon, this will look like a completely new building, and that's why we do these kinds of things," Rowell said Friday. "When we have the chance to realistically or reasonably save a building like this rather than knock it down, we're going to do it."

Statewide, the program dished out $2.9 million to similar projects. In total, 29 communities were on the receiving end of grant money for the 2019 cycle, of which 16 have populations fewer than 1,500, according to a release from Reynolds' office.