City approves Facade Grant Program amendment


The Ames City Council, in the fourth Steering Committee meeting, discussed the components of the Ames Climate Action Plan.

Maximilian Lisowski

The Ames City Council voted to allow downtown buildings to apply for up to $30,000 to rehabilitate their facades Tuesday.

During this meeting, the council unanimously passed option two of the amendment: A property could be awarded up to $30,000 if the project requires funds for the rehabilitation of historically significant, character-defining features if it could be tied to other grant-eligible work.

The money will be awarded over two grant periods if the rehabilitation of the building meets the grant’s criteria. Currently, the grant awards buildings up to $15,000 to improve the facade of non-residential buildings over two grant periods each year — the first in May or June and the second in October. 

The Downtown Facade Grant program was created to encourage the improvement of the facades of commercial buildings in Downtown Ames while keeping the historical character of the buildings intact, according to city documents. 

According to the Downtown Ames design guidelines, the grant will help businesses stay true to Downtown Ames’ character of being no-nonsense, efficient, matter-of-fact and plain-spoken. 

This decision will help attract owners to the grant application, according to the council. It will be mutually beneficial for both the city and the owners — buildings in the downtown area will look better for the city, and owners will have the means to make improvements and rehabilitate them.

While the grant looks great on paper, Chuck Winkleblack, a realtor for Hunziker & Associates in Ames, said it would be reasonable if the council could decide in the future to raise the grant amount since it hasn’t been changed since 2000. 

“$15,000 doesn’t buy you in 2000 what it would buy you in 2022, and I realize it’s a budget-type issue, but I think we’re on the cusp of some really great things,” Winkleblack said. “There’s a lot of things that could really help downtown and it’s also an energy-efficient thing as we talk about our [Ames’] climate action plan.” 

To remedy this concern of both the council and community, the council decided they would discuss increased grant awards at their next budget meeting to adjust for inflation.

The program is said to be finalized within the next 60 days. 

For more information or updates on this program, visit the City of Ames website.