Changing the Look of Downtown

Downtown Forest City Forest City, IA

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FOREST CITY, IA – Mary Loden has owned Nu2U for more than four years now.

And hopefully by next year, the outside of her store will have a new look.

“The front of the building is getting a little bit of a facelift. Something for people to get excited about and say hey I want to go in there and shop,” said Loden.

And she’s not alone.

More than 40 businesses along the Clark Street strip will be receiving a façade that is meant to transport people to the past.

“Nice to be able to take a retro fitted awning from the sixties and bring it back to the closer in town time to the 1950’s when building was built,” said Steven Bakke, with Bakke-Steven Law Office.

Beth Bilyeu, Executive Director of Forest City Economic Development is hoping folks can keep the final product in mind because there will be some construction to put up with before that happens.

“It’s always exciting to have your building spruced up.  It’s always a little difficult to go through construction and we’ll have some things we’ll try to do to mitigated some of the messes going along but it’s always exciting to have things revamped,” said Bilyeu.

Bilyeu says that 500,000 dollars will be coming from the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

200,000 from Forest City and an additional 50,000 is being donated by the Hanson Foundation.

For business owners like Loden, they hope this revamp project will highlight Forest City and bring others into town.

“Changing the look and feel and the dynamics of the main street and hoping that we’re moving in the right direction and its going to attract more business owners and again more customers,” said Loden.

Charles City, Spencer and Mason City are also recipients of the grant money for the renovation project.

Businesses in Forest City that do end up going through with the renovations will only have to pay 25 percent of the cost.

One of the requirements is to also work on making the stores more energy-efficient.

Construction is expected to begin in 2014.

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