IEDA selects Newton reinvestment district application

·3 min read

Jun. 29—The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) Board on June 25 accepted Newton's application to establish a reinvestment district, which will provide millions of dollars in state funding to a number of projects around the downtown district, at Legacy Plaza and the adjacent DMACC campus.

When a reinvestment district is established, state funding — in the form of future sales tax and hotel/motel tax revenues generated within the district's boundaries — will funnel through to the City of Newton and be distributed in regular payments over a 20-year period.

The IEDA Board unanimously voted in favor of allowing Newton to receive a provisional award of $14 million from the Iowa Reinvestment District Program, or about 90 percent of what was initially requested — more than $15.4 million — by the city. A total of $100 million was allocated to six Iowa communities this way.

Three key stakeholders have listed a number of projects that would benefit from the reinvestment district: DMACC Newton Campus, the City of Newton and Catalyst Development Newton LLC. Several projects will expand retail, improve infrastructure and create new attractions in the city.

Catalyst Development Newton LLC is leading the charge of an adaptive reuse project in four of the eight Maytag campus buildings. Included will be 51 market-rate apartments, a 58-room boutique hotel, a craft cocktail lobby bar and a 500-seat event center.

DMACC is aiming to improve infrastructure at Legacy Plaza, particularly in the courtyard. Didier said the construction a public green space and commons area was also included in the proposal. Two academic programs, applied engineering technology and cyber security, would also be added to DMACC.

The City of Newton's project is for a "resiliency zone," which includes the designs, preparations and construction of a bike trail and splash pad. The city would also continue fortifying its downtown grant programs for small businesses and improve road infrastructure in the district.

All three projects were estimated to cost more than $44 million, which means other financing measures will be needed.

Kim Didier, executive director of DMACC Business Resources, told Newton News that a majority of the projects will be moving forward, noting some might have to be tweaked because the provisional funds were slightly lower than what was requested. Still, there is work to be done. Particularly in Legacy Plaza.

The Cellar Peanut Pub in Newton, which was forced to close after the August 2020 derecho substantially damaged its building, announced Friday, June 25 it would be relocating to Gezellig Brewing Company's brewery space — not the taproom. The brewery taproom would be across the hall from the pub.

Staff hope to restart craft beer pub operations early to mid-2022.

In a press release from the city, Newton Mayor Mike Hansen, Angela Harrington of Catalyst Development and DMACC Board of Trustees Chairman Joe Pugel expressed their excitement about the reinvestment district.

"I'm thrilled that we were selected to submit a final application for the Iowa Reinvestment District Program," Hansen said. "The Newton Legacy Reinvestment District will transform our community. Not only at Legacy Plaza and in downtown Newton, but throughout the community, through public and private partnerships."

"I am grateful to the IEDA Board for supporting this project that promises to transform Newton," Harrington said. "The former Maytag Corporation headquarters, which is the center of Catalyst's development project, repurposed as a hotel, event center, pedestrian dining, and entertainment destination as well as affordable housing, is going to be one incredible project."

"We are grateful for the confidence that the Iowa Economic Development Board has shown in our project," Pugel said. "The funding from the Iowa Reinvestment District program will allow us to turn our vision for Newton and Legacy Plaza into a reality that many generations will enjoy for years to come."

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

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