Saturday, September 15, 2012

Monmouth Begins Downtown Renewal

By Megan Lyle

The City of Monmouth recently devised a plan to modify many older
buildings in the City of Monmouth that are left abandoned and unused.

A new project is underway that will renovate some of the
older historical buildings downtown in an attempt to benefit the community as a

One of the largest buildings involved is the former Maple City Candy
Company. The downtown building will be renovated, adding business space as
well as quality housing for the expanding community center.

Another idea is to hold of more publicevents within the downtown area. In order to facilitate a more visitor-friendlycenter, Monmouth will be aesthetically improving the square and adding a
community theatre.

Besides the city and tax money, Monmouth College has also provided funds
for the project to be made into reality.

“Historic tax credit programs help make renovation an affordable (and
eventually profitable) option for developers,” said Paul Schuytema, director of
Community Development. “Without that tool, we have to, locally, bridge that

According to Schuytema, the gap is filled by an investment of TIF funds
(from the City) and financial support of the College for the apartments. Those
funds replace the tax credit incentive that the state of Illinois does not have
to offer.

The college is giving money but it will also gain some benefits when the
renovation finishes.  The benefits of the
rental space, for example, are “not just for the larger community.”

“[They will] aid in efforts to recruit young faculty,” Schuytema said,
“and to provide opportunities for MC alumni to become more involved in college
and community life. It should be noted that the apartment will be high-end,
market rate rentals, and not student housing. They are geared more towards
young professionals and active retirees.”

It is not only the college that will see these benefits, however.

“There will be many positive effects,” Schuytema said. “More folks living
downtown will energize our downtown area. They will help support the retail
we’re working to bring in. It will help save key historic buildings.”

A more detailed list of these changes can be found on the Monmouth city website.

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