A look at facade project

More than a dozen local property owners and residents got their first look at the complete Elkader façade project during a public meeting last week at Elkader City Hall. Sixteen properties are participating. Nearly $489,000 in exterior improvements will be made. Seventy percent of the cost (more than $343,000) will be covered by a state grant. The remaining amount (about $145,396) will be the responsibility of individual property owners.

Roger Thomas, Main Street Director and Director of the Elkader Economic Development Corporation, explained the improvements that will be made to each of the participating properties. Projects range from a fresh coat of paint to completely rebuilt storefronts with extensive tuck-pointing, new windows and new doors. The overall goal is to return businesses to their original appearance.

“In addition to drawing more tourists to Elkader, this will help preserve these buildings for the next 150 years,” Thomas said.

Many of the buildings in downtown Elkader were eligible for grant money. However, only those on the west side of Main Street could apply. Buildings on the east side of Main Street are in the flood plain and therefore were excluded from the grant. Thomas, who is also a state legislator, is looking at options for these property owners.

The façade project started last month with the Elkader Law Office at the corner of Main and Mulberry Streets. Work on other buildings will begin soon. Some projects will be done in tandem. For example, Napa’s exterior paint job will likely be done simultaneously with other work.

Construction crews will have 12-hour workdays, beginning at 7 a.m. Elkader City Manager Jennifer Cowsert said crews expect to be on the job until November 15, weather permitting. Crews will return in the spring with all facades expected to be finished next May.

Thomas acknowledged that shop employees and customers might experience some temporary inconvenience during renovation periods. There will be minor parking issues, some sidewalk closures and alternate entrances to a few of the businesses.

The following businesses are participating in the façade program. The opportunity to sign on for the project has passed. Only these businesses will be covered under the grant.

Elkader Law Office, Clayton County Abstract Company, Napa Auto Parts, Subway, Stender Dental Office, Backstitch, General Store, Bruening Building (Elkader Tech and formerly Whimsey Market),Voss Realty, Gifford Insurance, J-n-J Pizza, Elkader Floral, Moser Pharmacy, True Value Hardware, Treats and Archive

Both local banks are also participating in the program.

“Both banks realized the challenge of meeting the 30 percent grant so they stepped up with zero- and low-interest loans for property owners,” Thomas said.

By Pam Reinig, Register Editor

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