Frontier receives challenge grant

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


With the help of the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA), a mainstay restaurant in downtown Washington will get a makeover after receiving a $75,000 challenge grant from the state.

According to a news release from Main Street Washington, the Frontier Family Restaurant will receive a $75,000 Main Street Iowa Challenge Grant to do a $161,365 facade project. The match from the restaurant is $86,365. The Frontier was one of 14 grants given Wednesday when IEDA awarded a total of $933,300 in grants to benefit local improvement projects such as facade upgrades and restoration, upper floor rehabilitation, building stabilization and repairs and remodeled spaces for expanding downtown businesses. The announcement was made during a ceremony held at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden.

?The Main Street Iowa Challenge grants have proved to be catalysts for the revitalization of Iowa?s historic main streets,? IDEA director Debi Durham said. ?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.?

Main Street Washington director Sarah Grunewaldt could not be reached for comment this morning. One application from each community may be submitted annually to compete from dollar for dollar matching grants from $15,000 to $75,000. Main Street Washington has received three of these grants, totaling $150,000 awarded, on behalf of three buildings in downtown since 2008. These buildings include the Triune Building, the former Bodywrx Fitness Center, and the Night Suites above Café Dodici.

The grants are administered through IDEA?s Iowa Downtown Resource Center and Main Street Iowa programs. The funding will be distributed in the form of matching grants to the selected Main Street programs. The estimated cost of the 14 projects awarded during this cycle is over $2.7 million.

?Each project must provide at least a dollar-for-dollar cash match,? Main Street Iowa State coordinator Michael Wagler said. ?In total these projects will leverage three times the state?s investment into bricks and mortar rehabilitation. These projects also will have a significant economic impact within each district and have a direct impact on each community?s downtown revitalization efforts.?

The Challenge Grant program is funded through an appropriation from the Iowa Legislature. Since the first appropriation in 2002 through 2016 about $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.