Downtown marketing effort planned

The ongoing effort to improve downtown Fort Dodge by implementing a 2008 plan will be the subject of a marketing campaign to be launched by the Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District.

”We want to get a good message to the community of what we’re trying to accomplish,” Jim Bird, the vice chairman of the district’s board, said Tuesday.

”We’ve got a lot of traction, a lot of new businesses starting,” he added.

Members of the district’s board talked about the marketing effort and reviewed the successes they’ve had downtown during a Tuesday afternoon meeting.

The downtown master plan was written by Camiros, of Chicago, Ill., and was adopted by the City Council in 2008.

The plan included 34 specific recommendations for action. Stephanie Houk Sheetz, the senior city planner, said 26 percent of them have been enacted.

The completed recommendations include:

  • Implementation of design guidelines to preserve the historic character of the area and make it attractive.
  • Passage of new zoning rules to regulate the use of property.
  • Setting up a forgivable loan program to help building owners pay for facade improvements.
  • Adding the downtown to the National Register of Historic Places in a move that makes property owners eligible for tax incentives.

The major district activities for 2012 included installing a sidewalk, fence and landscaping near the Fareway store at First Avenue South and 12th Street, according to Sheetz. She said the district also helped to sponsor Market on Central, the Back to School Bash and the Christmas lighting event.

Other improvements cited Tuesday by board members included the debut of 18 new businesses in a little over a year and a beautification project that placed large flower pots in front of some businesses.

District leaders now want to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy for the downtown plan. On Monday, the City Council approved spending up to $29,500 in district funds to pay Snyder & Associates, of Ankeny, to develop it.

Bird said Tuesday that he doubts the full $29,500 will be spent on the plan. He said district leaders will meet Friday morning with representatives of the company to start the work.

Also on Tuesday, the board re-elected its leaders. Rich Seltz is the chairman, Bird is the vice chairman, Steve Pederson is the treasurer and Nate Gibson is the secretary.

Mike Doyle was re-elected as a board member.

The Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District is a roughly 33 block area in which property owners pay an extra tax to finance improvements there.