Ottumwa receives $500,000 grant to revitalize East Main Street

Ottumwa City Planner Nick Klimek announces the downtown revitalization grant.

Plans to renovate downtown Ottumwa took a huge step forward Tuesday with the announcement of a $500,000 downtown revitalization grant.

The grant is from the Iowa Economic Development Authority and will go towards facade improvement of the entire 300 block of Main Street.

For those involved, which includes Main Street Ottumwa, the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation, the Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation, the City of Ottumwa and, of course, the property owners on Main Street, the announcement of the grant is an exciting step forward.

"The way I view it, it's a building infrastructure project and a starting point," said Nick Klimek, Ottumwa City Planner. "It's a starting point in our effort to revitalize downtown."

The Legacy Foundation has been highly involved in the improvement of downtown and Executive Director Brad Little said this cooperation between so many organizations is a great way to build momentum on an ongoing effort.

"In my opinion, it's a tipping point for Ottumwa," Little said. "I mean, there's been a lot of things that have happened positively - the KMGO building, Appanoose Rapids and the Market on Main - but I think this is one of those [times] where it was a collaborative effort of all the business owners and hopefully we'll start some momentum on that edge of town and starting moving down Main Street and Second Street."

In addition to this grant, there are also several projects in the works in line with downtown improvement. The Legacy Foundation has been doing studies and research on turning the one-way streets in downtown to two ways, construction has begun on the Capitol and Capri Theaters and the Market Street Bridge will be under construction in the next few months.

As for the revitalization grant, the project will take 18 to 24 months to complete after an architect is hired and facade plans are approved.