Cape gets $370,000 DREAM grant for parking lot

Thursday, July 17, 2008
KIT DOYLE ~ Historic Preservation Month was marked Friday, May 9, 2008, with the "This Place Matters" walking tour of historic buildings in downtown Cape Girardeau.

PDAs started buzzing at 11:30 a.m. Thursday with news that Gov. Matt Blunt approved a $370,800 grant to build a parking lot and public restrooms in downtown Cape Girardeau.

Tim Arbeiter, vice president for community development at the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce, said he was delighted by the news. Arbeiter wrote the grant application, which he said was reviewed by city and Old Town Cape officials who have formed a DREAM Initiative development team.

The city is adding $225,000 in cash and $57,900 in services, such as engineering design and construction inspections, for a total of $653,700. The grant includes $250,000 to acquire the necessary property.

In addition to the handicapped-accessible parking lot and restrooms, the money will pay for landscaping. Arbeiter said the aim is to renovate an L-shaped lot at Broadway and Water Street that has a mixed surface of gravel and deteriorating concrete.

Cape Girardeau Mayor Jay Knudtson called the announcement "fantastic news."

"This is a tremendous boost to our continued commitment to the downtown and our continued renaissance that is occurring and will certainly serve as a critical component to the downtown area, as parking is so desperately needed," he said.

Marla Mills, executive director of Old Town Cape, said the parking lot and restrooms are planned as a response to requests by the community and downtown business owners. The project, she said, is among the physical manifestations of the DREAM Initiative. The lot will provide 45 to 50 parking spaces, depending on the final design.

Arbeiter said city will design and construct the parking lot but an architect would design and oversee building of the restrooms.

He said the bidding process to find a contractor would likely take six months, but state grants typically include an expectation that most of a funded project will be done within 12 months.

In a formal statement Thursday, Blunt said, "I am pleased we are able to help the Cape Girardeau community with this important effort to enhance its quality of life. We continue to actively assist Cape Girardeau and other DREAM communities that are working diligently to build on their strengths and seek new opportunities to revitalize their downtown business centers to create and retain jobs."

The DREAM Initiative was started to help small and midsized Missouri communities pursue downtown revitalization, business development and residential improvements with some state funds and other incentives, many aiming at creating jobs or bolstering the economy.

The Missouri Department of Economic Development, which manages the Community Development Block Grant program, works with the Missouri Housing Development Commission and the Missouri Development Finance Board to help DREAM cities.

Mills said the DREAM process shows the importance of partnerships between cities and local organizations.

Arbeiter said credit for the grant application goes to all members of the DREAM Initiative team.

"We used the whole DREAM team to edit and review the application. It was a good grant," Arbeiter said.

335-6611, extension 127

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