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Maquoketa officials have learned that the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) have chosen the City as a pilot community for the Upper Story Housing Project. Maquoketa Mayor Don Schwenker was notified March 11, of the $500,000 for the downtown upper story housing project. The project will create four or five apartments in the vacant upper story of 124 South Main, which houses the Maquoketa Art Experience and Maquoketa Area Chamber of Commerce. These apartments will be a mix of one and two bedroom units, and will include elevator access.

The city of Maquoketa and local groups have established a new program to encourage the renovation of upper story apartments, as part of updates to its downtown incentive initiative. 

The city, Maquoketa Area Chamber of Commerce and Jackson County Economic Alliance made the announcement Monday. Eligible projects for the incentive program will include facade or interior renovation, upper story renovation, additions, leasehold improvements or acquisitions of commercial property in the downtown district, according to a news release. 

The downtown incentive initiative, which began in 2015, has funded 16 revitalization projects totaling more than $530,000. Around $100,000 in grant funds were awarded by the city, which leveraged $430,000 in private investments, officials said. 

"Downtowns are the heart of a community," said Jackson County Economic Alliance Director Nic Hockenberry, in the release. "People often judge the health of a community by the health of their downtown, so it is critical to have an attractive and inviting downtown district."

The incentives for downtown projects can be used in conjunction with the low interest loan program offered by Jackson County financial institutions, which offers a 4.9 percent interest rate for downtown projects. 

"I encourage all downtown property owners to investigate and take advantage of these renewed programs," said Gerald Smith, Maquoketa city manager, in the release. "These funds can help restore wonderful structures and create new vitality in our downtown."

Economic alliance officials also announced Monday that the Old Trophy Building, at 110 S. Main St., will be renovated. Andrew and Emily McCready, with 563 Design, plan to begin construction on the building in early summer, according to a news release.

"The city is truly transforming, and we wanted to be part of that," said Emily McCready, in the release. "(It's) a building with much potential, but the necessary repairs are extensive. Now, with the city of Maquoketa and IEDA’s assistance, the project is feasible to develop. We can’t (wait) to bring it back to life."

The Maquoketa Betterment Corporation purchased the property in 2015 and, along with other local groups, began searching for a developer and funding sources to rehabilitate the building.

Last April, Maquoketa received a Community Catalyst Building Remediation Grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority, aimed at renovating the historic building in the center of the downtown district. 

The Maquoketa City Council committed $100,000 to match the state grant, with another $300,000 coming from the developers. 

The new owners aim to renovate the 5,000-square-foot commercial space into two upper story apartments, according to the release. Work is slated to begin in early summer. 

Because of the success of the downtown incentive program, Jackson County Economic Alliance officials said the Chamber and city are looking at other main corridors in Maquoketa that are in need of development programs. 

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