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Council considers Tallcorn Towers grant application

December 6, 2012
By DAVID ALEXANDER - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

As part of the Tallcorn Towers renovation, the Marshalltown Central Business District has recommended that the city allocate money for facade upgrades to the building.

Doug Husak, volunteer chair for code upgrade and facade improvement program, spoke to the Marshalltown City Council Monday, detailing how the grant plans to help restore the building's facade.

"There is a certain element we are trying to achieve as far as trying to keep downtown the historic place it was meant to be," he said.

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Three of the four facades on Tallcorn Towers, shown here Nov. 19, will likely use tax increment finance dollars to restore the entrances to the building’s 1928 design. Monday, the Marshalltown City Council considered whether to approve $45,500 in TIF grants to help fund code and facade work on the $10 million project.

MCBD acts as an intermediary between the building owner and the city council, ironing out the grant application and making a recommendation to the city, said Michelle Spohnheimer, housing and community development director.

The city grants amount to $45,500, including $20,000 for code updates.

Should the council approve the allocation, Tallcorn's new owner, CommonBond Communities LLC, must match the money.

Guidelines stipulate that the owner must make at least $80,000 worth of code improvements and $102,000 worth of facade improvements to qualify for the grants.

Code upgrades to the sprinkler system alone will cost $300,000, while the facade improvement come in at $162,000.

The owner must complete those improvements within 90 days of the application's approval. The cost of renovating the downtown apartment building exceeds $10 million.

CommonBond will do substantial work on all four facades. However, because of visibility specifications, only the building's south, east and north sides qualify for the grant.

Husak said only those faces of the building commonly in public sight qualify to receive funding through this grant.

Joel Greer, third-ward council member, said what the MCBD committee does is critical. Grants like this one help transform the face of the city for the better.

"Everybody owns downtown," he said at Monday night's council meeting.

Each side would use $8,500 worth of city money to make a dent in the facade upgrade. Money for the grant comes from the city's tax increment finance (TIF) fund - local subsidy dollars used to give blighted areas a facelift.

The Site Plan Review Board has already unanimously approved the facade changes. According to the board's Nov. 29 minutes, the facade work will return the south entrance on Main Street to its 1928 look, including limestone and single-pane windows.

Any changes to the Tallcorn Towers sign do not fall under the umbrella of facade changes and must later come before the Site Plan Review Board.

Bethany Wirin, at-large council member, said she loves all the projects funded by this program. The grant program began in 2006, and an initial $150,000 allocation and a $50,000 follow up allocation fund it.

"I think everybody that was here then would agree it has been worth it," she said.

TIF grants are still available for tenants and property owners alike, Husak said. Anyone interested can call the MCBD at 641-844-2001 or Doug Husak at 641-754-5617.



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