Downtown on the right track

Published 10:18 am Wednesday, May 11, 2016


The future is looking bright for downtown Albert Lea.

With the announcement Monday that the city was awarded an almost $527,000 Small Cities Development grant, that means more and more downtown buildings will soon see renovations.

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The grant makes funds available to qualified property owners as a low-interest loan, part of which becomes a forgivable grant after five years.

Money repaid to the city for principal and interest on the loan will be placed in a loan fund for future projects. Property owners must also provide matching funds for a portion of the project.

The program applies to buildings on Broadway, from Water Street to Main Street; Clark Street, from Newton Avenue past Washington Avenue; and William Street, from Washington Avenue to Broadway.

Under the state guidelines, work allowed for residential projects includes repair or replacement of windows, doors, furnaces, plumbing and roofs, along with handicap accessibility improvements. Commercial projects include exterior windows, doors, signage, awnings, roofs, ramps and energy improvements, to name a few.

Once projects are completed, residential units must be primarily occupied by low- and moderate-income households at affordable rents.

The city has estimated the funds will allow for 14 residential rental and 14 commercial projects to be completed, based on letters of interest received by the city from interested property owners last summer and earlier this year.

We applaud the city leaders who worked hard to make this happen, and we eagerly await the day when some of these projects will be completed.

We also applaud those who awarded the grant who recognized the value of Albert Lea’s downtown. Let’s help keep these historical buildings strong.