BLACKFOOT — The Blackfoot Urban Renewal Agency met Tuesday morning and gave its last grants for the 2019 fiscal year, which ends on September 30. It also held a brief public hearing on its proposed 2020 budget which it then passed.
BURA gave out three grants to two different parties. The first was a blight grant given to Manal Plesner to remove the old building along the alley on Pacific Street between NW Main and N. Broadway.
The building is in back of the building that Paul Loomis has been renovating on the corner of Pacific and NW Main for his new candy and fudge store. It was formerly a bar but has been vacant now for several years and is considered an eyesore.
The agency’s board members voted to fund the removal of the building at 100 percent of the $14,000 cost.
BUTLER DRUG BUILDING
Doni and Gena Wixom own the old Butler Drug building at 45 W. Bridge Street. It currently houses Doni Wixom’s Collecting Americana store which sells antiques and collectibles.
“I want to preserve as much of the originality of the building as I can,” Wixom explained to the board. “I have the old Butler Drug Store neon sign that I want to redo and rehang.”
Wixom had to take down the old awning but wants to replace it with a striped one like the drug store used to have. He also intends to preserve the original green paneling from the drug store which still covers the lower half of the building facade.
The building already has one of downtown Blackfoot’s iconic murals on the side facing the alley, in the parking lot shared by the ISU Credit Union.
Wixom also has plans to redo the interior of the store space, taking down more non-load bearing partitions and opening up more area so it can be usable as a meeting space. Once his renovation is complete, he estimates he will have close to 2,500 square feet of usable space.
He intends to install a vintage Liquid Carbonic soda fountain, perhaps as one that can actually still serve soda fountain drinks if at all possible.
“I want a place to share all the historical Blackfoot stuff that I have,” he said, talking about the potential of reviving downtown and the positive effect that tourists visiting the potato museum have had on the area. “It’s been developing slowly but people doing the walking tour of downtown are beginning to make a difference.”
BURA awarded Wixom a facade grant of $8,844.65 and an economic development grant of $17,335.50.
BURA has projected that it will have expenditures of $885,000 for the Downtown business district and $743,305 for the Riverside business district, for a total of $1,626,305 for the 2020 fiscal year.
The agency held a brief public hearing where one question was asked about where the budget numbers could be found. After the inquiry was answered, there was no further input from the three members of the public present so the hearing was closed.
The agency board members then voted unanimously to approve the 2020 budget as proposed.
The 2020 budget has funds to cover approximately eight to 10 facade or blight renewal grants. Property owners who can make at least $5,000 of their own improvements are eligible for blight removal grants. BURA can give grants to cover up to 100 percent of requested funds for eligible improvements at the discretion of the agency.
Property owners who will make at least $2,000 in facade improvements are eligible for up to $10,000 in facade grands to improve building frontages, which can include up to a maximum $1,500 to cover design costs.
BURA also makes economic development grants for businesses able to match funds, with amount at the discretion of the agency.
Further details and conditions for these grant programs for properties in Blackfoot’s two urban renewal districts are available on the city’s website at https://www.cityofblackfoot.org/189/BlackfootUrban-Renewal-Agency, or in the city’s economic development “black pack,” available from the planning and zoning department.