State Street Reconstruction | Madison, WI

Guthrie Center Starts Implementing Downtown Revitalization Plan

Chris Janson, AICP | with 0 Comments

Guthrie Center Starts Implementing Downtown Revitalization Plan

In 2011, Guthrie Center’s downtown was plagued by vacant storefronts, deteriorating buildings and failing infrastructure. City leaders knew something needed to be done. The City, businesses, and residents banded together to take action and revitalize their downtown. The City’s primary goals, as the lead in the revitalization process, were to improve public infrastructure, encourage private reinvestment, and create a more vibrant and sustainable downtown.
The City initiated the effort by beginning a Downtown Development Plan (2012) and followed with downtown streetscape improvements (2013). In late 2012, business owners founded the non-profit Guthrie Center Revitalization Corporation (GCRC). The GCRC has renovated several downtown buildings, facilitating business growth. In 2014, with strong business and community support, the City was awarded Main Street Iowa status.
This summer (2015), the City led a Community Development Block Grant-funded façade rehabilitation project, which included the rehabilitation of 17 buildings throughout downtown. These actions and additional efforts by private business were part of the action plan developed in 2012. The City Council continues to lead the community and businesses in the implementation of the Downtown Development Plan. Guthrie Center is proud of what it has accomplished in a short period of time.  
During the planning process, the City of Guthrie Center developed an innovative three-pronged strategy for improvement:
  1. Lead through public action. The City implemented action steps recommended in its Downtown Development Plan. Public investments including sidewalk, lighting, and a street overlay.
  2. Support private reinvestment. The City welcomed the creation of the Guthrie Center Revitalization Corporation, a private 501(c)(3) created to help spur investment. Additionally, the City has supported businesses as they implemented the plan. Private actions include the removal/renovation of deteriorated buildings, a pocket park development, new businesses and a new signature bank building on a prime redevelopment site.
  3. Facilitate public/private efforts. The City, community and business owners were awarded Iowa Main Street status, which provides the downtown with additional business resources and funding. A combined effort of the City, community and business owners led to the receipt of a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant for façade improvements. Seventeen businesses have just completed exterior renovations that restore a more historic appearance.
The City knew that reaching their goals and implementing the plan required public, private and joint public/private action. Storefronts are full, businesses are growing and the community is proud of its downtown.
The diversity of MSA’s employees allows us to build project teams that are truly suited to the complexity of each project. MSA’s team on this project included Shawn O’Shea, AICP and Stephen Tremlett, AICP, CNU-A. When you work with MSA, you’re not just working with the team members assigned to your project – you’re working with all of us. For more information, contact Chris Janson.

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