Approximately $2.4 million in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds are available on an annual basis to cities and counties through the state of Iowa’s Downtown Revitalization program.
The Downtown Revitalization Fund provides grants to communities for activities contributing to comprehensive revitalization in historic city centers or core downtown areas. The program is primarily focused on building façade improvements to privately owned buildings in downtowns. Buildings with first floor residential use, or that were the recipients of a Community Catalyst grant award, are prohibited from program participation. Work on roofs, for up to 40% of that building’s total costs, is also eligible.
Front façades of buildings and side facades, when clearly visible from the travel lane of the adjacent public street are eligible. Rear facades are eligible only under very rare circumstances. Upper story residential units are subject to Lead Based Paint requirements.
All incorporated cities and all counties in the State, except those designated as HUD entitlement areas, are eligible to apply for and receive funds under this program.
The maximum grant award is $500,000. Communities with populations less than 300 are limited to $1,000 per capita. Cities with populations between 300 and 999 may receive up to $300,000. Cities with populations of 1,000 or greater may receive the maximum award.
To apply for the maximum award, a minimum of 8 blighted buildings (addresses) must be proposed for improvements in the overall project. A minimum of 6 blighted buildings (addresses) must be proposed for improvement to apply for any amount of funds. Local matching funds from the city/county, building owners or other sources are required to be competitive. Applications for funding are accepted and reviewed on an ongoing basis, as funds are available.
Applications for the CDBG Downtown Revitalization Fund must meet a CDBG program national objective. The national objective most applicable to Downtown Revitalization Fund projects is the elimination of the slum and blight.
To address the slum and blight national objective, the application must document the extent or seriousness of deterioration or blight in the downtown “target” area to be assisted (at least 25% of all structures in the area), illustrating that the proposed activity will alleviate or eliminate at least some of the conditions causing the deterioration or blight. A comprehensive, detailed building survey documenting blight, as well as a designating Chapter 403 resolution from the local government applicant, is necessary to meet this national objective.
The services of an architect to prepare preliminary cost estimates and renderings is required as part of the application. These costs cannot be reimbursed by CDBG funds.
Applicants may apply for funds to improve a number of building facades or for a single, documented iconic building. Those applying for funds for a single building must have prior IEDA approval.
Please contact Ed Basch at 515.348.6208 with questions on program requirements.
2 CFR 200 Audit Requirements
CDBG contracts may be subject to audit. Federal Code (2 CFR 200) requires that recipients that expend $750,000 or more in federal funds within a fiscal year must have a single or program specific audit. When budgeting for CDBG funds, applicants should be aware of these audit requirements:
- For recipients of $750,000 or more in federal funds received from more than one source of federal funding, an organization-wide audit must be conducted in accordance with federal requirements outlined in 2 CFR 200.514
- For recipients of $750,000 or more in federal funds received from a single source, a project audit, targeting only transactions dealing specifically with the project, may be performed in lieu of an organization-wide audit.
Communities should consult with their accountants regarding the applicability of an audit and audit requirements.
Audit costs are a CDBG-eligible expense. Organization-wide audits can be paid with CDBG funds proportional to the amount of all other funds included in the audit. The total cost of a project audit can be paid with CDBG funds.
Davis Bacon and Related Acts
Projects that include construction may be subject to the requirements of the Davis-Bacon Act and related laws and regulations. The Davis-Bacon Act applies to all contracts for construction, alteration and/or repairs in excess of $2,000 that involve CDBG funds. Cost estimates for the proposed project should reflect compliance with these requirements.
Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act
For projects that include acquisition and relocation, all recipients given the authority to acquire property are required to follow the guidelines in HUD Handbook 1378 – Tenant Assistance, Relocation and Real Property Acquisition. Cost estimates for the proposed project should reflect compliance with these requirements.
Historic Preservation Review Requirements
Federally funded activities are subject to the review requirements of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. The goal of the review process is to identify historic properties, both above and below the ground potentially affected by the undertaking, assess the effects of the undertaking and seek ways to avoid, minimize or mitigate any adverse effects on historic properties.
The review process involves review by IEDA and possible consultation with various agencies, groups and individuals, including the State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO), located in the Department of Cultural Affairs. Although consultation is not required prior to a CDBG award, if the project includes a property that may have historical significance, it is a good idea to contact IEDA early in the project development. For more information regarding Section 106 review and compliance, please contact Ann Schmid at 515.348.6202.
Iowa Green Streets Criteria
Projects funded under the Downtown Revitalization program must meet the Iowa Green Street Criteria. The Iowa Green Streets Criteria promote public health, energy efficiency, water conversation, smart locations, operational savings and sustainable building practices. As part of the application, you will be required to submit the Green Streets Criteria Checklist.
For more information, visit the Green Streets web site at: https://www.iowaeda.com/userdocs/programs/resources/Iowa-Green-Streets-Criteria-DTR.pdf
Environmental Review and project initiation
No HUD Funds or non-HUD funds may be committed to the project until the applicant has secured environmental approval from the State, as provided in HUD regulation 24 CFR Part 58. In addition, pending environmental approval and pursuant to 24 CFR Part 58.22(a), no grant recipient or participant in the development process, including contractors or sub-contractors, may undertake an activity that may limit the choice of reasonable alternatives. Such choice limiting actions include real property acquisition, conducting a competitive sealed bid process for the project, leasing, rehabilitation, repair, demolition, conversion, and new construction.
Buildings with a first or ground floor residential use or that are currently or have been the recipient of Community Catalyst funds are not eligible.
Prior to submitting an application on IowaGrants.gov, you must contact Project Manager Ed Basch at Ed.email@example.com or 515.348.6208