VINTON, Iowa (KCRG TV9)- Four Vinton businesses burned out in a huge downtown fire last February now have another incentive to rebuild and return. The city just received a $100,000 from the Iowa Economic Development Authority to help fill in the void left by the fire and the demolition of debris.
The fire on February 8th did more than just destroy a furniture store, pharmacy, lawyer’s office and title business. It also ripped a visible hole right in the middle of Vinton’s downtown district.
After months of clean up and some reconstruction, the gap is starting to close. A new Michael & Dowd furniture store is close to completion with an opening expected sometime in October.
The rebuilding of Benton County Title is also ongoing and could be finished this year.
Lisa Vogt, owner of Michael & Dowd, was prepared to fund the rebuilding herself with the insurance settlement. But she could use the help.
“Had a lot of people stand behind us and pleased when we decided to come back and for the city to stand behind us and go for the grant. It means a lot,” Vogt said.
The city of Vinton will match the $100,000 state grant with $100,000 from local tax increment financing funds.
Chris Ward, Vinton city administrator, says three or the four businesses lost in the fire have either started reconstruction or taken out a building permit.
Ward thinks the grant money could be the final incentive for all the businesses to return.
“We really wanted our downtown to stay vibrant and wanted those businesses to come back. They are all still in business and we haven’t lost any. We just want those businesses back in their original location,” Ward said.
Ward says the grant money is intended to help pay for the cost of clearing the debris and preparing the site for redevelopment.
And if all four original businesses don’t come back to the downtown location, a new developer would be able to use the city and state incentive money.