The city of Maquoketa has updated its downtown incentive programs and established a new program focused on upper-story apartments. 

Eligible projects for this program include facade and/or interior renovation, upper story renovation, additions, leasehold improvements, and/or acquisition of commercial property in the downtown district. 

Projects must complement the city’s vision of a revitalized downtown, according to Nic Hockenberry, director of the Jackson County Economic Alliance, which is partnering with the Maquoketa Area Chamber of Commerce and the city on the project.

The downtown incentive initiative began in 2015. In the first two years it funded 16 projects. The first was renovations to La Casa de Pancho. Others included Farrell Tax & Accounting, Elegant Nails, Pure Salon, and more.

Those 16 projects amounted to downtown revitalization projects of over $530,000, Hockenberry said. About $100,000 in grant funds were awarded by the city, which leveraged $430,000 in private investment. 

There are six elements to the revised downtown incentive programs. They include: 

ν Acquisition assistance 

ν Blade signage 

ν Commercial interior 

ν Consultant assistance 

ν Facade 

ν Upper-story renovation

Individuals may apply for multiple incentive programs. 

“Downtowns are the heart of a community,” Hockenberry said. “People often judge the health of a community by the health of their downtown, so it is critical to have an attractive and inviting downtown district.” 

“I encourage all downtown property owners to investigate and take advantage of these renewed programs. These funds can help restore wonderful structures and create new vitality in our downtown,” said Maquoketa City Manager Gerald Smith. 

These incentives can be used in conjunction with the low-interest loan program offered by all Jackson County financial institutions. This loan program currently offers a 4.9 percent interest rate for downtown projects. 

Because of this success and the city’s hope to create these kind of public-private partnerships throughout the community, the Maquoketa Area Chamber of Commerce, JCEA, and the city began conversations to develop programs to meet revitalization goals along the city’s other main corridors, Hockenberry said.

For detailed information on the downtown incentives, contact Hockenberry at 563-652-4549 or email hockenberry@thejcea.org, or Gerald Smith at 563-652-2484 or email gcsmith@maquoketaia.com

All incentive applications will go to the JCEA, which will review them for completeness and required attachments. 

Last week, the city council set up a five-person Design Review Committee to review the applications and make a recommendation to the Maquoketa City Council on whether to approve them. The council has final say. The committee will be comprised of representatives from JCEA, the Chamber, the city manager or property maintenance inspector, and two other people yet to be determined.

Councilman Ronald Horan told fellow council members last week that he wants to see such investment spread in the rest of the community, not only Main Street and the downtown. The council is expanding its attention to Maquoketa’s corridors on Summit, Main and Platt streets.