Money now ready for Northwood downtown

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 7, 2002

NORTHWOOD, Iowa &045; A new incentive program designed to help Northwood residents make improvements to their downtown area is now underway.

In July, forgivable loans became available for downtown development, thanks to $150,000 set aside from the city’s tax-increment financing fund. Qualified applicants are financed for up to 50 percent of the project cost or $25,000, whichever is less. A 5-percent-interest loan from the area’s banks, in conjunction with the grant money, is an added incentive for those interested in downtown improvements.

The program is expected to focus on downtown redevelopment along Central Avenue. Tuesday, Northwood City Council member Kevin Petznick, who is also a member of the committee administrating the loan program, mentioned three specific downtown buildings in dire need of repair: the former Central Variety Store, the Evans Plumbing & Heating building and the former post office.

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The Evans building is the only of the three that is owned locally, by Northwood resident Mike Evans. Former City Attorney Chad Belville, who has left the area since resigning from his position, owns the Central Variety Store. The former post office is also owned by an out-of-towner. The owners of these buildings &045; and others &045; may apply for a loan to improve the buildings, but according to Petznick, that will require initiative on their part.

&uot;We won’t chase them down; they have to come to us,&uot; he said.

Petznick said the goals are to attract new businesses to the downtown area and to fix up some buildings to make their downtown more presentable. He added that in the week since the program began, one person has applied for the tax-increment financing, but declined to mention who the applicant was.

Jolene Cotter, owner of Cotter & Co. styling salon, thinks the idea of downtown renovation is worth pursuing, and hopes the idea draws interest from everybody, not just those with businesses on the town’s main street.

&uot;The businesses that are thriving could benefit the new ones,&uot; said Cotter. &uot;The new could sponge off of that.&uot;

The city has also been working with Iowa Downtown Resource Center Director Thom Guzman and Burlington architect Janet McCannon. Guzman and McCannon have been helping concerned citizens to develop a plan for the revitalization project, outlining the city’s strengths and weaknesses. They have also helped to establish short- and long-term goals crucial to the success of that plan.