Downtown revitalized

Published 2:00 pm Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Aren Crews saws boards while attempting to bring a floor back to level Monday in the apartments above the Martial Arts Fitness Center in Austin. The renovation is part of the Main Street Project, which began in 2005. Matt Peterson/

Before long, carpenters will run a few more screws and bring Austin’s Main Street Project total to 38 completed renovations since 2005.

Carpenters for the last several weeks have worked on the corner of Main Street and Fourth Avenue NE, where they are renovating the Martial Arts Fitness Center and photography studio directly next door. Directly above that, they’re in the midst of remodeling two run-down apartments, as well. They hope to complete all of these projects before the weather gets too cold.

Sara Douty, Main Street Project coordinator, is satisfied with the revitalization of downtown over the past seven years.

The front of the Martial Arts Fitness Center on Main Street is under construction as part of the Main Street Project. Carpenters are also renovating the digital photography studio next door, along with two apartments upstairs.

Email newsletter signup

“I couldn’t be happier,” Douty said. “Our project really is an example for a lot of other main-street-type projects across the state.”

Douty added Austin officials get calls quite often from other city officials inquiring about the processes involved. She credits the success to numerous organizations and individuals who have joined to make each project a reality.

“I think that the real key for us is that we’ve got a lot of people working together on it,” Douty said.

Since its inception, the Main Street Project has brought $5.7 million in investments to downtown Austin. Douty added the ambition among business owners is high, too, as $3.4 million of that total investment has come from private investment.

The business renovations will be paid by a $50,000 Port Authority easement, $25,000 Hormel Foundation forgivable loan and a $25,000 owner contribution. The apartment remodelings will be paid by a $52,775 Hormel Foundation grant, $19,600 Hormel Foundation forgivable loan and a $24,125 owner contribution.

While the Main Street Project may help more property owners in 2013, Douty said projects for next year have not been set.