In February of last year CDC Executive Director Evan Blakley unveiled a plan to convert the community room into office space for Iowa Workforce Development, an Ignite Denison incubator/accelerator space for businesses and the CDC offices.
The city will also designate $50,000 in Tax Increment Finance funding toward the redevelopment, for which the CDC will pay $5,000 in property taxes annually. After 10 years the property would generate new tax revenue for the city and other taxing entities.
The letter also says the city will create an economic development fund equal to the payoff amount of an existing forgivable loan to the CDC (which was $15,000 in February 2018), which can be used for the Ignite Denison project.
The city has right of first refusal should the CDC sell the property.
The TIF funding that is being offered by the city won’t be available until July, which Blakley said is OK.
Prior to the meeting last Tuesday, the city council had received an email from Deb Knowles asking that the city consider having the community building converted into an “incubator” for wellness and fitness to serve everyone in the county, and that the city continue to own and operate the property, perhaps collaborating with other entities.
She wrote that service is needed and the wellness and fitness plan could be the first step towards a full-fledge fitness center similar to those in surrounding counties.
However, Councilman Nathan Mahrt said the wheels were already in motion for the CDC project and that people had already made plans.
“We wouldn’t be doing the right thing if we went back on that now,” he said.
Blakley said at its last meeting his board decided to proceed and move forward with the project.
“That’s due to some grant funds ($35,000) that we were awarded that will time out if we don’t expend them by the end of this calendar year,” said Blakley. “We don’t want to see that happen. We want to get started on the project.”
He continued that the CDC has about two-thirds of the funding already raised for the project and has a plan to raise the remaining amount of about $100,000 privately within the community along with help from corporations, grants, foundations and similar sources.
Blakley said the CDC will need some time to do that so he asked that the timeline in the council’s February 2018 letter to complete the project in a year could be extended to 18 months.
“I haven’t taken that to my board, but I would feel more comfortable with a year and a half,” he said.
“We’re excited to get started and bring this new asset to the building and convert a vacant building into something we can be proud of,” Blakley added.
“Ultimately we’ll have a new room, all new systems, new facades,” he said. “It’s a total redo of the building.”