Indianola downtown merchants will have a chance to put a new face on old buildings thanks to a Downtown Facade and Interior Improvement Program that Indianola City Council members approved Tuesday.
The new program will allow businesses within eight blocks around the Square, as well as some areas just outside that immediate area, to receive grants of up to $25,000 to improve the inside and outside of their businesses, said Emily Rizvic, associate planner with the city of Indianola, during a council study meeting last week.
The city has budgeted $125,000 for the program, according to a news release from the city.
“The downtown guidelines encourage an open concept storefront which maximizes window space and really emphasizes that hometown pedestrian feel of the downtown area,” said Rizvic.
“Our Downtown Square has had some transformative changes take place over the past four years with both Warren County and the City making investments in the heart of Indianola” said Charlie Dissell, Indianola director of community and economic development, in a news release. “I am excited for business and property owners to continue these investments that will make Indianola’s Downtown Square a destination for all.”
Examples of projects eligible for funding through this program may include new signage,
windows, doors, exterior painting, emergency repairs, and tuckpointing. Eligible interior
improvements may include upper-story interior rehabilitation or creation, including creating new upper-story housing units or commercial spaces, according to the news release.
The program is encouraging open-concept storefronts and maximizing window space as well as using accessories designed for outdoor use.
The program discourages inconsistent building heights and setbacks or “non-compatible building materials.”
Indianola had had a Downtown Incentive Program in 2010 that was designed to “help building owners revitalize and refresh the appearance of their businesses to attract people to visit the central business district,” said Rizvic. Twenty-five business participated in the program, she said, increasing the property value of particpating businesses from 40 to 412 percent. The more the property value increases, the more that business will pay in property taxes.
Applications must inlcude a facade plan if exterior work is proposed; building plans if interior work is proposed; photographs of facade and interior to be improved; an itemized project budget; and a written narrative
Applications will be sent to Community Development Department for a staff review and then will then go to the Downtown Square commission for scoring. Applications will be scored on multiple categories that can be scored on a 1-3 point basis in each category. Businesses must earn a minimum of 15 points to be approved.
An informative session overviewing the application process and requirements will be held in the City Council Chambers on Thursday, Feb. 23, at 9:30 a.m. This session will be recorded and uploaded to the City’s YouTube Channel, the city said in a news release.