Residents Weigh-In on Business Preferences in Brownfield Open House

Residents Offer Comments on Improvements


If your paint brush was economic development what kind of picture of Lamar’s downtown area would you create?

Local residents were provided an opportunity, Monday, May 6th, to weigh-in on what type of business development they thought would have the most beneficial impact to the retail and service sector of Lamar.

Keely Marsik, representing Ayres Associates, met with residents during a Brownfield Assessment Open House at the Lamar Community Building to discuss a feature of the Prairie Crossroads Revitalization Project. The public meeting was the starting point for the three-year, EPA grant funded project that will rely heavily on public comment.  The Lamar Redevelopment Authority Board also held a 5pm work session to provide an overview of the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Lamar Redevelopment District, guided by Matt Ashby, Urban Planner for the Ayres group.

Residents viewed several large scale aerial maps of downtown Lamar, plus other display stations where they could make selections or written comments of what they would like and not like to see develop in the downtown area for new or existing businesses.  The selections ranged among more generic examples for buildings such as mixed uses, civic uses, enhancements, residential and commercial or industrial uses.

Another option allowed a preference selection on the nature of a business, the type of establishment they would most like to see downtown. Those selections were for:  gift shop, brewery or tap room, family style restaurant, clothing, health food and vitamin store, mobile food trucks, sporting goods, appliance-furniture and home goods.  At the end of the hour, the restaurant sported the most green stickers for most wanted.

Marsik explained that some preliminary choices had been made by a local steering committee comprised of people from backgrounds such as small business, medicine, civic, construction and so forth in order to develop a different perspective of needs. “We didn’t want people who already had a small business operation or were involved with some form of city government,” she explained, adding that more open house meetings will be held for additional citizen involvement and ideas.  Marsik said the initial grant of $300K will also be leveraged for additional funding to help further the study and provide a pathway for more business development in Lamar.

The Redevelopment Authority Board work session, also held at the Community Building provided a recap for Urban Renewal Authority Board Training. Lamar’s Urban Renewal District was set up almost ten years ago as a means of generating funding to be used for business expansion, development and a means of eliminating blight within the District’s jurisdiction.  The District and Board was set up for a twenty-five year life span.

The funding comes from Tax Increment Financing, TIF, which is derived from an initial assessment of the total value of the District from a base year tax revenue formula. Taxes within the District are collected when improvements or additions are made which increase the value or worth of the district.  Some examples would be the construction of a brand new building or improvement or additions to an existing structure which adds to its value beyond the initial assessment.  The Lamar Redevelopment Board can use those funds generated by the tax to help other business improve or expand their physical operation.

Some of the recent uses include providing funding for a series of new roofs along Main Street’s, downtown businesses, lighting, flooring and plumbing fixtures for other stores in that neighborhood.

By Russ Baldwin




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