As soon as "the weather starts warming up," Small Cities Development Program block grant coordinators told members of the city Ways & Means Committee Wednesday evening, the public should start noticing the positive impacts of an SCDP grant for downtown Crookston that totals just under $600,000.
The two-year grant, which looks to wrap up by Dec. 2014, currently involves 15 rental rehabilitation projects downtown and 10 commercial rehab projects, which will mostly involve exterior storefront improvements, explained John Scheving of the Northwest Minnesota Multi-County Housing and Redevelopment Authority in Mentor.
Each of the rental property projects will receive $12,500, with a matching component required of participating property owners. The matching requirement is similar for the commercial projects, each of which will receive $40,000 in grant dollars, Scheving said.
He acknowledged that some participants who expressed interest in doing a rental and/or commercial rehab project when interest was first sought in 2011 are now expressing reservations about moving forward. Most of the issues dampening their enthusiasm, Scheving said, have to do with historical preservation requirements and the abatement of lead-based materials. If some back out, Mayor Dave Genereux stressed, there is a waiting list of potential property owners who'd like to do projects.
Genereux and other city officials are anxious to see the projects get started and get finished so that the city can show SCDP officials that Crookston spends the grant dollars in a meaningful and relatively rapid fashion when they're awarded. The hope is that the positive results will boost the city's chances as it seeks larger SCDP funding in the next grant round in 2015.
"There's a lot riding on this one, because there are other areas of town we want to hit," Genereux said.
Ward One Council Member Tom Jorgens, who's been and continues to be involved in various downtown revitalization efforts like Crookston InMotion, said the work to commence downtown this spring with SCDP dollars is the "early one out of the chute. We need it to show things are happening and build momentum for downtown."