The dream of improving is continuing for downtown Farmington.
Officials with city, chamber and downtown organizations traveled recently to Jefferson City to meet with state executives about implementing a program developed by former governor Matt Blunt and awarded to the community last year. A brief update on that meeting was given during the recent city council work session.
The Downtown Revitalization Economic and Assistance for Missouri, or DREAM, initiative was created by Gov. Blunt to help the downtown areas of the state to improve. About 30 towns were selected over a three-year period to be part of the DREAM initiative.
“Always focus on looking at the downtown and rebuilding from within, and not just working on the outsides of towns,” explained Farmington City Administrator Greg Beavers.
The grant process is 80 percent state funded and 20 percent city funded. The city will work one-on-one for about three years with an architect and the planning urban consultant company Peckham, Guyton, Albers and Viets Incorporated, based in St. Louis.
The DREAM initiative will help with renovation of buildings downtown, and encourage contractors to work on housing in and around the downtown blocks as well as to improve building structures. In other participating communities the project has worked to create lofts or apartments in the upper levels of downtown buildings.
The project will include looking to updating the National Historic Registry and include buildings which were not eligible when the registry was completed in about 2003. The Farmington Downtown Development Association had a study completed in 2002 and discussed plans about renovating the downtown area.
In order to be listed on the National Historic Register buildings must be at least 50 years old. Since the time the research project was completed more than five years ago more buildings may now be eligible for the register.
Other aspects of the DREAM initiative include renovating buildings to improve infrastructure, working on public facilities, identify housing tax credits (for apartments and housing), tax credits for downtown buildings specifically, and possibly exploring new construction in the downtown blocks.
Plans for the first phase of the grant should be completed within 2009 and will continue through 2011. The contract allowing for the city’s 20 percent “match” of the research study should be signed at the next city council meeting.
Also during the council work session the group:
• Heard the first presentation of a new bill which would allow for preliminary design work for the new fire house;
• Gave approval for approximately $5,000 in change orders for the new airport terminal building currently under construction. The changes allow for an improved window treatment, upgrades in a couple doors from steel to hard wood, and the addition of a tray ceiling to the main lobby area.