Main Street Coon Rapids Revitalization Project Produces Economic Development Momentum
15 Jul 2021
When the success of Coon Rapids Hardware Hank led owners, Duane, Robyn and Adam Esdohr to seek out a larger location, a whole cascade of economic development was set into motion with the help of the City, Main Street Coon Rapids, Main Street Iowa, a Main Street Iowa Challenge Grant, and a Community Catalyst Building Remediation Grant. Main Street Iowa is a program of the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
Here is how the story unfolded. The Esdohrs had been looking for a larger location for a number of years because they had already added on to their existing building at 517 Main Street until they had no more room for expansion. The Syngenta customer service office building on the corner of Main Street and Sixth Avenue had been vacant and deteriorating since 2018, but was brimming with space and potential. Through the efforts of Main Street Coon Rapids, the Esdohrs were able to secure the building, renovate, and move in. Main Street Coon Rapids in turn helped new owners, Ryan and Kristy Bass, take possession of the Esdohrs’ old hardware building with the plan to make significant renovations in preparation for their own business endeavors.
“When the Esdohrs toured the Syngenta building, they saw the wonderful potential to triple their space and consolidate their warehouse and showroom needs into one building,” said Katie Mason, Main Street Coon Rapids Executive Director and Coon Rapids Community Coordinator. “However, it wasn't until they were able to access the resources provided by Main Street Coon Rapids and Main Street Iowa that they were able to acquire the property and pull the trigger on the renovations.”
The Iowa Economic Development Authority presented Main Street Coon Rapids with a $75,000 Main Street Iowa Challenge Grant — the maximum award — for the Coon Rapids Hardware Hank expansion into the Syngenta building. The application process — requiring a substantial commitment of time and energy — was a joint effort between Duane Esdohr and Mason. It took nearly six months to complete because it required renovation blueprints, budgets, business proformas, community impact statements, and public/private partnership documentation, among other things. In addition to partnering to secure the funding, Main Street Coon Rapids also worked with Syngenta representatives to transfer ownership of the customer service center to the Esdohrs.
“Being part of the Main Street program gives our community access to resources and opportunities that they didn't even know existed,” said Mason. “The support, technical assistance, and accountability it provides is critical to making lasting and impactful improvements. Even though the program focuses on the downtown district, the ripple effects can be felt throughout the community. We believe a thriving downtown is essential to a vibrant community.”
Main Street Iowa Challenge Grants are available only to Main Street Iowa communities. The Challenge Grant also requires a 1:1 cash match: The Coon Rapids City Council agreed to provide $37,500 in Tax Increment Funding funds towards that. The Esdohrs secured funding for the remaining renovation costs that were around $275,891.
“The Esdohrs completely transitioned the hardware store into the new building at the end of June,” said Mason. “There are still a few punch-list renovation items to wrap up, but for the most part the expansion is complete. They are in the process of adding new product lines in the coming months, like farm and ranch and Stihl power tools. The newly renovated space also includes five fully-furnished offices for rent. The office suites have their own entrance and give business professionals an opportunity to rent a space downtown.”
Following on the heels of Coon Rapids Hardware Hank’s transition to 615 Main Street, the Iowa Economic Development Authority announced the award of a $100,000 Community Catalyst Building Remediation Grant to the City of Coon Rapids to renovate the newly vacant former hardware building at 517 Main Street. Ryan and Kristy Bass will soon take possession of the old hardware building and begin making significant renovations to meet their needs.
Once again Mason partnered to complete and submit the grant application. In addition to the grant funds, the city agreed to contribute $37,500 of Tax Increment Funding towards the renovations. Both the city’s contribution and the $100,000 Catalyst funds will be given to Basses upon completion of the renovation. The total project cost is estimated at $230,900.
The Basses plan to divide the first floor of the building into two separate bays, renovate the façade, fix the roof, and create a 1400 square foot, two-bedroom second-floor apartment. The first floor will be renovated to accommodate three businesses: Kristy’s hair salon, a golf simulation business, and a restaurant.
“The Hardware Hank expansion was a catalyst to further building renovations downtown,” said Mason. “The momentum is there, and we are excited to continue to nurture that passion.”
City leaders are working to continue that momentum. City officials and Main Street Coon Rapids leaders, assisted by Region XII Council of Governments staff, are in the midst of applying to the Iowa Economic Development Authority for a $500,000 Downtown Revitalization Grant that includes façade renovations for 8-12 buildings on Main Street. The grant application is due in August and if the city is awarded the funds, construction could start in the spring of 2022.
Western Iowa, with its committed workforce, strong sense of community, and quality of life, should be high on the list for companies looking to grow and improve. Contact Western Iowa Advantage to learn more about the region, workforce, and available sites.