It was nearly a year ago that the City of Colfax and Colfax Main Street Inc. were awarded nearly $600,000 in Community Development Block Grants to facilitate the remodel of its downtown district, but just recently many of the changes have become evident.
Colfax Main Street Inc. held its latest Downtown Revitalization Project construction progress meeting Monday afternoon, where representatives from RDG Planning and Design and Cornerstone Commercial Contractors briefed the planning team on where they were in the process, what still needed to be completed and the potential timeline on the project.
Meanwhile, jackhammers echoed up Howard Street and down Walnut Street in downtown Colfax as the demolition of storefronts progressed.
“We’re in construction, so demolition is happening on buildings while, at the same time, reconstruction is happening on buildings,” Scott Allen of RDG explained. “It’s just a constant cycle, so the majority of the discussion today was just about what building is next, what’s left to do.”
Colfax’s participation in the Main Street Iowa program was instrumental throughout the CBDG grant application process, helping to ensure the funds necessary to refresh the coal-mining era façades of downtown. Since 1986, Main Street Iowa has worked with 64 cities and towns within the state and, in the meantime, rehabbing 8,000 historic buildings along these communities’ main thoroughfares.
Among the storefronts receiving new paint, trimming and façade work are Trier Family Chiropractic, the Briggs Building, Napa Auto Parts, Luthens Law Office and the Rustin and Chapman Buildings. Eleven businesses inhabit the 14 properties, while two vacancies remain available for potential business owners.
“We’d say we’re about 30 percent done,” added Gabe Gallaher, also of RDG.
After painting wrapped up on many of the properties in the fall before temperatures dropped, more drastic changes are being implemented as the project nears its July deadline. New windows have been installed at Trier Chiropractic and will soon grace the façade of the NAPA building as well.
“I think there’s been a lot of positive feedback,” Julia Kern, Program Director of Colfax Main Street Inc. said. “Just last week when we put the new windows in at Trier Chiropractic, she got three new customers from Facebook who didn’t realize their business was in town, probably because of the way it looked before.”
“That’s really he most dramatic thing that’s been done,” Joe Dvorak, President of Colfax Main Street Inc. added. “The work on the Napa building just doesn’t show that much yet — it’s mostly demolition — but those windows, wow!”
Colfax Main Street’s Facebook page has been instrumental in keeping the community updated on the project. Kern often posts photos of demolition and the subsequent new construction.
“Today I took and posted a picture of the Rustin Building storefront and said, ‘A new storefront will be here. Is anybody interested in having a business?’ and some girl was like, ‘It’s my dream!’” Kern added. “I think the excitement will help fill vacancies, bring in more business and raise awareness about what we have going on in Colfax.”
Staff writer Nicole Wiegand may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 422, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.