CDA awards first downtown grant
City of Waupaca provides $40,000 in business incentives
By Angie Landsverk
A proposal to renovate a North Main Street property is the first to be awarded grant funds under Waupaca’s new Downtown Business Incentive Program.
The city’s Community Development Authority (CDA) approved $40,000 in matching grants for the project when it met on Jan. 13.
Point Housing plans to renovate both the street level and the second level of 201-203 N. Main St., after taking over ownership this March.
There are two commercial spaces on the street level, and four one-bedroom apartments on the second level.
“Funding for this project not only has the potential to rejuvenate this building; it is our hope it can stimulate the northern reach of downtown, which has long been a dead zone for the district,” Point Housing wrote in its proposal to the CDA.
It noted the “considerable” investment made in Danes Hall of Waupaca a few years ago and said “remaking the block that connects the Danes Hall to the rest of downtown would seem a critical objective for this grant program.”
Point Housing believes its “project can be an important piece in helping to achieve that objective.”
It requested $60,000 in grants toward the cost of its project on North Main Street.
The $40,000 approved by the CDA includes a $15,000 Facade Enhancement Grant and a $25,000 Building Repair Grant.
Both of the 50% matching grants are the maximum amounts available under the recently approved incentive program.
Grants are awarded after projects are completed.
Additional grants to be considered
The CDA’s vote includes reconvening at a later date to consider the additional $20,000 in grant requests.
That is to occur after receiving a progress report from Point Housing.
The program guidelines allow the CDA to approve grants above $15,000 and $25,000 for facade enhancements and building repairs respectively for larger projects “demonstrating a significant positive impact on the downtown.”
City Administrator Aaron Jenson said the work associated with the additional $20,000 would fall in both the building repair and facade improvement categories.
“When putting together the program framework, we felt it was important to provide a level of flexibility to the CDA when deciding on projects,” he told the Waupaca County Post.
He said that is why the language allowing for larger grants was built into the program’s structure.
“It just so happened the first project was an outstanding proposal that the CDA felt may be worthy of additional funding due to the considerable private investment and its alignment with the program’s goals,” Jenson said.
He said, “If the additional $20,000 is approved at a future date, program dollars are still being leveraged at an approximate 2-1 ratio in building improvements. That 2-1 ratio does not include the private funds used toward the purchase of the building.”
The CDA spent more than an hour in closed session discussing the proposal.
Point Housing’s local project
Point Housing owns several mixed-use buildings in central Wisconsin.
Among them is 117-119 N. Main St., in downtown Waupaca.
Northern Home is located in the street-level space, and there are two, two-bedroom apartments above it.
The renovation of the 201-203 N. Main St. space is scheduled to take place from March to October.
“This is set to be a large downtown investment that aims to improve the facade while maintaining historical components, improving the two commercial suites, renovating housing units on the second floor and upgrading infrastructure such as electrical, roofing, plumbing and HVAC to name a few,” Jenson said. “This proposal is a model example of what the program is aiming to accomplish.”
The common council approved the Downtown Business Incentive Program last November.
That approval included giving the CDA the authority to administer the program and approve the funding, he said.
Property owners in the downtown district are eligible for the grants.
Prior to the common council approving the new program, it first voted to amend the boundary of Tax Incremental District (TID) No. 10 (Badger Street) by a half-mile radius to include the downtown area.
Funding generated by TID 4 (Western Avenue) is being transferred to TID 10 for the program.
Jenson said $1 million is being set aside for the program.
Funding of $500,000 is proposed during this first year of the program.
“We’re not borrowing money,” he told the CDA last week.
Jenson said the process with the program’s first applicant went well.
“The primary reason is that the members of our CDA did a great job coming prepared to discuss the project and brought a lot of good perspective to the table,” he said. “We are extremely excited to work with them on future applications, as well as future economic development initiatives.”
Recently appointed to the CDA were Mayor Brian Smith, Gene LeSage, Shellady Udoni Horn, Pam Gusmer, Dennise Ross, Tracy Behrendt and Ald. Paul Mayou.
Downtown property owners may visit www.cityofwaupaca.org/development/downtown-incentive-program for details about the program.
“There have been a number of inquiries regarding the program, and we have enjoyed acting as a resource for those who have expressed interest,” Jenson said. “We have heard from a number of individuals on their intent to apply and do expect more applications to come in the near future.”