2015 Preservation at its Best, Community Effort: Manning Downtown Revitalization
Manning has an exceptional story because of the speed that they worked, the number of storefronts they were able to improve AND their ability to effectively navigate multiple preservation programs. The city established a Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) in 2008 and became a Main Street community in 2009. After a two-year process of working with architects, historians, Main Street Iowa, the HPC, and many community volunteers, Manning was awarded a CDBG Downtown Revitalization Grant in 2012.
At the same time, the HPC received a Certified Local Government Grant to complete Iowa Site Inventory forms. The City of Manning established a downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district to leverage revitalization efforts. Public-private partnerships and countless volunteer hours drove the seventeen-facade project. Building owners signed easements giving the City the rights to the facades of their buildings so that it became one contract—one project. Many of the buildings contained beautiful brick work that was failing and many main-level storefronts had been concealed beneath Bavarian themed facades, wood-shingled canopies and full slipcovers. One of the buildings, Deb’s Corner Café, was listed as one of Preservation Iowa’s Most Endangered Properties in 2012. Prior to the construction, fourteen were considered contributing to the potential National Register downtown historic district and all seventeen contributed post construction.