Resource Partner – Main Street Mount Pleasantpatrickluensmann
By Amy Kuhlers, IASourceLink, with Lisa Oetken, Director, Main Street Mount Pleasant
Iowa Main Street Challenge Grants have been helping Iowa’s Main Street communities revitalize downtowns for over fifteen years. These dollar-for-dollar match grants leverage four times the state’s investment into rehabilitation projects that help bring life back to underutilized and neglected buildings. Main Street Mount Pleasant was a recent recipient of funds and we asked Main Street Director, Lisa Oetken, to share some thoughts on how the grant proceeds will benefit their community.
Mount Pleasant was recently awarded a $75,000 Main Street Challenge Grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA). Can you tell readers about the project your community will be undertaking?
The Hoaglin building was built in 1890 and is located on the west side of the downtown square, adjacent to Central Park. Lowe Holdings, LLC purchased the building in October 2015. All three stories, including the commercial space on the first floor and the residential apartments were vacant and in a dilapidated state at the time of purchase. The residential space has not been occupied since the 1950’s and local building inspectors have “red tagged” the second and third floors as they are not livable in their current conditions.
Since the time of purchase, we invested in wiring and roof repairs to make the first floor available for rent. Both retail spaces have been rented as of January 2016 to a large southeast Iowa antique retailer. We are happy to report the antique business is thriving in this location.
The Challenge Grant funds will support the second and third story residential revitalization. Our project scope is construction of 4 apartment units on the second and third floor of the “”Hoaglin”” building. Plans have been developed to build one 2 bedroom and one 3 bedroom apartment on the second floor. The third floor will also feature one 2 bedroom and one 3 bedroom apartment.
The Main Street Challenge Grant requires a community match funds awarded. Can you share how your community rallied to build the additional funding package?
Broad support existed for the Hoaglin Building restoration. Funding was secured from Southeast Iowa Regional Planning, the City of Mt. Pleasant and the building owner. One of the items on Main Street Mt. Pleasant’s 2016 Action Plan was upper-story development.
Looking towards the future, what economic impact can you envision from the completion of this project?
Recent upper-story residential development in downtown Mount Pleasant has driven 25 new businesses and 35 jobs in the last 2 years. I see this trend continuing into the future. Once these four upper story housing units are completed we will have seen 58 new units completed since 2002. The assessed value of these units has increased by 42.3% in the past 13 years.
Are there other projects on the horizon you’d like to tackle next?
Main Street Mount Pleasant will continue working with our business and building owners to ensure us to have a vibrant downtown. The next project will be to finish the street scape in the Main Street district. This project will begin in the summer of 2018.
Anything else you’d like to share about your Main Street program?
Like many communities in rural Iowa, downtown Mount Pleasant has a wealth of older multi-story buildings and is the economic hub for retail businesses, professional offices, specialty and personal service shops, restaurants, and other businesses. Downtown Mount Pleasant is fortunate to have a core group of beautiful historic buildings, which have been a catalyst for a successful and vibrant downtown. However, this has not always been the case. In 2002 Mount Pleasant became a Main Street community with a mission to promote downtown as an exciting place to live, shop and invest, but to accomplish this we were going to need a game changer or in other words a vision.