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Revitalization of East Main is vital

July 1, 2012

East Main Street is rebounding.

Many factors have contributed to the continued revitalization of this area of Marshalltown's Central Business District, and its importance is of great significance to Marshalltown.

Our Main Street is the heartbeat of the community. It's a reflection of community image, pride and prosperity, all of which are critical factors in business retention and recruitment. Along with our visual identity, it also represents a large portion of our community's tax base, considerable employment and visitor attraction.

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The largest accomplishment to date on East Main was the opening of the recently renovated Orpheum Theater Center. Administered by Iowa Valley Community College, the Orpheum has breathed new life into the east end of Marshalltown's Main Street.

With its close proximity to another community asset, Marshalltown Medical & Surgical Center, it serves as a great anchor.

While the theater continues to show movies, it houses a coffee shop, several learning studios and an exhibit hall. Its black box theater features top-notch live performances, and the building is otherwise the epicenter for youth and adult involvement in the arts. The Orpheum has found success in drawing large, and even international crowds, with its Jean Seberg Film Festival and recent Donna Reed Film Festival.

Marshalltown has a chance to build on this momentum - and it is.

Another celebration for development is the upcoming $9.7 million renovation of the Tallcorn Towers. Developer CommonBond Communities will renovate the building at 134 E. Main St. into 49 affordable apartments along with lower-level commercial space. As a former seven-story hotel it was a remarkable mainstay in Marshalltown. Having since been transformed into an apartment building, its age and historic background make it an ideal location for a renovation.

In May, CommonBond received necessary tax credits from the Iowa Finance Authority, in part because of the strong support from the city. The rehabilitation gets underway early 2013.

The Marshalltown City Council gave the area another boost this week - approving a 10-year tax abatement for the Iowa Wholesale building project.

The $5.2 million renovation will bring 28 additional housing units downtown and will spur continued growth and investment in the area.

When an arsonist claimed the historic building to the west of Iowa Wholesale at 135 E. Main St. in February, we all saw the devastation of its loss. This was exasperated by a less than ideal timeframe for cleanup. The Marshalltown Central Business District is moving forward, hopeful that if a grant is approved for the next-door Kibbey building, it will be rehabbed and transformed into more downtown housing and commercial space.

Thanks to the dedication of many leaders in Marshalltown, a supportive city council and an active Main Street program these visions are becoming reality. It's clear that a strong and vital Main Street does matter to Marshalltown, as it should.



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