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Estherville wins $100,000 Catalyst Grant

Funds will be used to rehab 700 Central Ave.

April 15, 2019
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

The city of Estherville has won a $100,000 grant to renovate the building at 700 Central Ave., across Central Ave. south of city hall. The 2019 Community Catalyst grants from Iowa Economic Development will be awarded tonight in Grinnell at the Rural Summit to 29 cities across Iowa.

In December, 2018, the city of Estherville signed an agreement with the Estherville Area Growth Partnership to renovate and sell the building. The 1899 building is, according to Estherville and Emmet County Economic Development Director Lyle Hevern, "a vacant, neglected, two-story brick building that needs some love."

The city agreed to provide a grant for not less than $300,000 on behalf of Excel Estherville from the community betterment portion of the local option sales & service tax receipts.

Article Photos

The $100,000 Community Catalyst grant will offset the advance to EAGP.

Funds will be used on the exterior to replace the rubber membrane roof, tuck point and repair brickwork, repaint brickwork currently painted orange in a color that complements the bare brick on the second floor, renovate exterior stairway to the second floor, and replace the entrance door and windows.

On the main floor's interior, tasks include removing junk, exposing the original tin ceiling for restoration, removing material covering the exterior walls, replacing wiring and HVAC, and replacing the entrance to the main floor space with modern materials and energy efficient glass.

On the second floor, there is more junk removal to be done, as well as replacing windows with energy-efficient, attractive ones, removing exterior wall and spray foam to insulate walls, covering with sheetrock and paint, replacing wiring, plumbing and HVAX, and removing most of the interior walls to develop two apartments of two bedrooms and two bathrooms each.

Hevern said, "We want the renovation to look as nice as it can and also be very functional as we do not yet know exactly who will occupy the building."

The Partnership has retained 571 Polson Developments of Ames to create some possible concepts for layout and use of the space. Bergland + Cram Architects of Mason City will develop more specific layouts for the two business spaces on the first floor and two apartments on the second floor. Hevern said the tentative timeline is to have the space ready by the end of 2019.

Hevern said the celebration in Grinnell was exciting.

"It was great to be part of a bunch of really excited people who are positive about redeveloping things in their downtown areas," Hevern said.

The Community Catalyst program was initiated in 2018 by the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) to help create fundamental, positive change in Iowa's downtowns. The grants, $100,000 per community, assist with the redevelopment or rehabilitation of buildings to stimulate economic growth and reinvestment.

Estherville was one of the larger cities to win an award. Bancroft in Kossuth County, population 700, won a grant to convert s. Summit House to residential space. Spirit Lake won a grant to convert 802 Lake Street to apartments. Of the 29 communities awarded during the 2019 application round, 16 have populations of fewer than 1,500. Program rules require at least 40 percent of funds be awarded to cities with fewer than 1,500 people. The Catalyst Grants are awarded annually based on funding availability. IEDA awarded $1.8 million in grants to 18 cities in 2018.



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