LE MARS, IA — A strong downtown is the life-blood of any smaller community. And the Le Mars has embarked on a major project the keep its downtown vibrant, and at the same time preserve the past. The downtown revitalization project is helping property owners get the front of their buildings and signage renovated to look similar to their historic past. About a half dozen businesses, like Ideal Cleaners, have taken advantage of the program so far. And it is not only helping restore the business on the ground floor, but also the second floor, which in many cases hasn't been used for years. Mainstreet Design Team Chair Richard Ziettlow says, "A lot of the second stories are not useable because of the windows, and some tuck pointing that needs to be done. So windows will be replaced, a lot of the aluminum siding that was put up back in the 60's and 70's will be removed." Ziettlow adds the renovations are also creating a new interest in living downtown, "That's one of the, I don't know if it's a side effect of this, but definitely a benefit is that the property owners" he says. "Besides restoring their building their restoring the upstairs turning them back into apartments. And we have at least one property owner that lives above the store that's built a new apartment up there." Main Street Iowa pays about 50 percent of the renovation costs, the city pays about 25 percent. Which means the property owners who take part in the program pay only about 25 percent of the entire cost.
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