Stanton Placemaking Action Plan

Stanton is a community on the rise. Since 2010, the community has collectively completed over $39 million in enhancements. Financially supported by both public and private partners and driven by visionary leadership and engaged residents, Stanton is poised to continue on its path to becoming a choice community for both businesses and residents.

Stanton’s businesses and 637 residents enjoy the community’s small town charm and safety as well as the community’s proximity to amenities found in Omaha, just an hour away. Still, for the community to truly flourish, it must offer its own amenities that will attract and retain people and jobs. By embarking on this placemaking effort, Stanton is taking the first step in doing just that.

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Community Visioning

Public input is the foundation of every community development strategy or action plan. For many communities, this means holding an open house or two and being happy if twenty residents show up. Stanton, though, falls on the other end of the spectrum. During the visioning session, a staggering 175 residents shared their hopes and dreams – ideas big and small – for the community’s future.

Housing is an overarching concern for many community members. The existing housing stock is older, and there are not many choices when it comes to the kinds of housing available. Residents said the community needs a mix of apartments with modern amenities, more ranch-style homes, and ADA-accessible homes.

Residents want to see a mix of amenities for people of all ages. They’d like to strengthen the connection to Viking Lake and to Red Oak with a trail. Residents also mentioned a swimming pool, splash pad, trampoline park, tennis courts, and a disc golf course.

Additionally, people want to access the arts in their community. This could be through concerts in the park, dance lessons, painting classes, or public art. Residents also expressed the desire to expand the downtown architecture throughout the community.

Stanton residents noted the need for before and after school programming beyond what the Viking Center offers. Community members want to see opportunities for adult education, for expanded science, engineering, math, and technology (STEM) offerings at the school, and for training in the skilled trades. In the same vein, residents pondered how to attract entrepreneurs and noted the need for entertainment opportunities in the community. Residents believe that the community’s location gives area businesses ready access to larger markets but feel that it is tough to recruit new talent to Stanton.

A complete summary of the visioning session can be found in Appendix A. Additional community input can be found in Appendix B and Appendix C.

Action Plan Description

A quantitative and qualitative data review guided the process of paring back the community’s dozens of potential projects to a manageable number from which to start. At this time, capacity assessments were conducted for each of the projects, ultimately leading to seven placemaking projects that have the potential to ripple through Stanton for years to come.

  • Artist Residency
  • Citywide Housing Initiative
  • Community Connectivity
  • Makerspace
  • Grocery Lockers
  • Tarkio No. 645 Masonic Lodge Mixed Use Revitalization
  • Restaurant

Artist Residency

Artists and creatives are being pushed out of larger metros due to the cost of living and the inability to find affordable studio space. Being inside an hour’s drive to the Omaha metro, Stanton stands to benefit from this phenomenon as it occurs in Omaha.

One such way to turn this challenge to Stanton’s advantage is to create an artist residency. The goal of the residency is to attract a new creative every six months, on average, to Stanton.

Stanton is especially well-positioned for an artist residency because it is unlike the other cities where these residencies are typically located. As a result, artists will be able to draw on new points of inspiration and will face new artistic challenges, enabling them to grow as artists.

Because of its rural location, the Stanton artist residency program is designed to draw upon not only Omaha-area artists but also those from around the globe. The program will offer rent-free room and board, including newly developed studio space, and a $500 monthly stipend.

In exchange, the artist will be expected to teach youth classes on a regular basis during their time in Stanton. These classes may be taught in collaboration with the Stanton Community School District or with the makerspace described in this action plan. Depending on the artist’s discipline, it is hoped that they will collaborate with the Montgomery County Memorial Hospital and the therapy classes offered through the oncology department.

The artist will be expected to host an open house at least once per month. The artist will be asked to open up their space and invite a local artist in once per month, ensuring that both local and external artists are supported through the residency.

Artists should be picked to be part of the residency on a competitive basis. The application should include:

  • A statement of practice
  • A statement of purpose (e.g., what does the artist hope to accomplish during the residency?)
  • A statement of interest (e.g., what is it about the Stanton artist residency that drew you to apply?)
  • A resume
  • Documentation of work, including digital images, videos, audio work, or written work, depending on artist discipline
  • References

Artists will be selected by a diverse group of Stanton residents and outside artists and curators on the merit of their work in addition to the rest of their application materials.

As the residency is established, a community-wide branding campaign – perhaps celebrating the community’s Swedish heritage – should be explored simultaneously. One component to consider as part of this branding campaign is a public art initiative. The idea is to further engage artists from the residency program with the broader community and to build a cross-section of installations over time that are tied together with the common theme of the community brand.

Annual Expenses
Item Monthly Cost Annual Cost
Utilities & Insurance $500 $6,000
Artist Stipend $500 $6,000
Event Expenses $200 $2,400
$1,200 $14,400
Grants
Entity Amount
Iowa West Foundation $3,000
Stanton Area Industrial Foundation $2,000
Montgomery County $2,000
City of Stanton $1,000
Stanton Community School District $1,000
Area Businesses $1,000
$1,20
Revenue Generation
Item Amount
Beer/Wine/Food Sales* $3,360
Fundraiser $1,200
$4,560
*Assumes $7 average per person with 40 attending each month.
Total Annual Gross Revenue $14,560
Total Annual Net Revenue $160

The Action Steps

Develop nonprofit to oversee artist residency

Arts and culture committee

Work with attorney in pro bono capacity to incorporate as 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Develop other guiding documents as necessary. Seat founding board of directors. Consider umbrella nonprofit for artist residency and makerspace.

Q2 2018

Design building layout

Nonprofit, arts and culture committee, architect, engineers

Finalize building needs, including workspace(s), the gallery, and second floor apartment. Determine estimated costs.

Q3 2018

Finalize business plan and begin fundraising

Nonprofit, arts and culture committee

Customize business plan in Appendix D. Build funding roadmap and prioritize grants and donor requests as part of larger fundraising campaign. Consider implementing a ‘friends of the residency’ program that helps underwrite special projects or local artists.

Q4 2018

Artist recruitment

Nonprofit, arts and culture committee

Finalize artist residency guidelines and begin recruitment process, advertising across the US. Seat review committee. Once applications are in, conduct interviews and select first artist in residency. Deploy press release and other marketing materials to target geographies. Consider engaging Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs among other cultural institutions.

Q1 2019

Complete buildout and prepare for opening

Nonprofit, arts and culture committee

Take project out for bid and select contractor. Update the community and funders – both secured and prospective – on buildout progress. Plan and host grand opening party.

Q2 2019

Citywide Housing Initiative

As in most Iowa communities, offering appropriate housing choices for all residents is a challenge in Stanton. There are no apartments with modern amenities nor are there any high end apartments. There is a need for duplexes and fourplexes, and the existing single family housing stock is mostly older; about half of the homes in Stanton were built in 1939 or before.

Residents recognize the importance of offering the appropriate choices for all ages. With an aging population, Stanton needs more ranch-style homes. The community needs to look at a program to encourage millennials to buy homes along with opportunities to live in second story apartment units on Broad Avenue.

The community already has benefitted from the work of the Stanton Area Industrial Foundation, which, “through speculative housing, lot development, and business and industry promotion, encourages newcomers to join in the spirit of positive growth” in Stanton. Now is the time to expand on the Industrial Foundation’s work to take an even broader approach to addressing the community’s housing challenges.

Stanton must take a comprehensive approach to the housing issue. The housing shortage is not going away unless the community’s businesses do. Stanton’s housing shortage is compounded by its status as a bedroom community to Omaha; more people who work in Omaha are moving to Stanton as they look for a charming small town where they can raise their families. There are multiple tools to address this shortage as well as enhance the condition of existing housing stock.

A citywide funding pool could be created using bonds or Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenues. The creation of this fund would be contingent upon the private sector matching it fifty percent. The funding pool, positioned as a revolving loan fund, would offer both traditional, low interest loans and forgivable loans, helping draw developers to the area. The funding pool should be made up of both public and private dollars.

Using an example from neighboring Nebraska, the state has appropriated $7 million to help bridge the gap for developers to be used as a revolving loan fund. The State of Iowa is interested in a similar program through the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA).

Funding for all programs could be used to create new units and to rehabilitate existing units.

Nebraska’s Rural Workforce Housing Fund provides matching grants to nonprofit development organizations to reduce the cost of workforce housing in rural Nebraska communities; towns that are less than 100,000 people are eligible. The grants support a variety of housing projects:

  • New owner-occupied housing costing no more than $275,000.
  • New rental housing units costing no more than $200,000.
  • Owner-occupied or rental housing units for which the cost to substantially rehabilitate exceeds 50 percent of a unit’s assessed value.
  • Upper-story housing.
  • In all cases, housing that does not receive federal or state low-income housing tax credits, Community Development Block Grants, HOME funds, National Housing Trust Fund, or funds from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Applications are evaluated based on the community’s housing needs, challenges attracting or retaining talent, the town’s commitment to growing its housing stock, expected occupancy within two years, and the ability to grow and manage the fund.

Beyond this citywide funding pool, Stanton should explore other mechanisms that have been implemented elsewhere. These include:

  • Tax abatement
  • Reduced lot cost
  • Utility incentives, including water, sewer, electricity, and internet
  • Waived building permit fee
  • 1 year free membership to the Viking Center and makerspace
  • 1 year free membership to the Stanton Betterment Association
  • If space allows, free daycare for six months during construction
  • Up to $100 of fuel during construction
  • Free family activity pass to school activities

The Action Steps

Determine funding to bridge gap for housing needs

Stanton Area Industrial Foundation, city leadership, housing committee

Identify current and future housing needs. Determine cost of development. Assess funding gap to address housing needs.

Q2 2018

Meet with State of Iowa to supply 50% of funds

Stanton Area Industrial Foundation, city leadership, housing committee

Demonstrate housing need and remaining gap. Develop materials to succinctly convey this information to Iowa Finance Authority and Iowa Economic Development Authority leadership.

Q3 2018

Raise remaining funding gap locally

Stanton Area Industrial Foundation, city leadership, housing committee

Determine remaining gap. Explore three primary options: Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenue, city bonding, and private and philanthropic investment. Look to use a combination of these sources if necessary.

Q2 2018

Develop rules for fund distribution

City leadership

Determine how funds are dispersed. Follow the guide of at least 70 percent being loaned to the developer at a rate of 1-3 percent and the rest to be forgivable over a 10-year cycle.

Q2 2018

Community Connectivity

Viking Lake State Park opened in 1951, and much of the area remains wild, overflowing with wildflowers and native plants. Other areas offer prime opportunities to spot deer, shorebirds, muskrats, beavers, turkeys, and ducks. The park also is home to two trails: The 0.9 mile-long Bur Oak Interpretive Trail and the 6.3 mile-long White-Tail Trail.

While Viking Lake draws 100,000 to 150,000 visitors per year, with 15,000 using the in-park trails, there is no good trail connection between the lake and Stanton itself. As a result, local businesses, the city, and the county miss out on a significant economic impact.

To overcome this challenge, the community needs to construct a trail connecting both the downtown area and the existing Stanton Greenbelt Trail with Viking Lake. As it sits today, the Stanton Greenbelt Trail nearly encircles the community. The paved concrete trail passes by the school and the Viking Center, too, both of which are pillars of the community.

While trail construction and any associated right of way acquisition can be expensive, the community will see a significant return on its investment through both the projects outlined in this action plan as well as projects that will follow as a result of developing the trail.

It is assumed that the first mile of trail west of Viking Lake State Park will be navigated on 230th Street. From that point, local leaders will need to determine a feasible route to connect the trail to the community. This will require working in tandem with Montgomery County, the city, and impacted property owners. Like the existing Stanton Greenbelt Trail, a key to success will be ensuring connections and overall proximity to points of interest in town.

In this vein of enhancing community connectivity, it will be imperative to create a trail spur on Broad Avenue. With the other placemaking projects all being located on or within half a block of Broad Avenue, the trail spur will perhaps be the most impactful component of this entire placemaking strategy. Provided wayfinding signage is installed, the trail spur will funnel Viking Lake visitors and other bicyclists into Stanton’s downtown, thereby opening the other efforts up to an entirely new audience and their pocketbooks.

Broad Avenue has significant width, so the trail spur should simply be an on-street facility. The community could consider a protected bike lane, positioning the lane between the existing sidewalk and re-striping the parking stalls to provide for parallel parking; multiple studies have shown the safety benefits of parallel parking over angle parking. Further, reducing the width of the travel lane slows vehicular traffic, increasing the opportunity for people to actually see the shops along Broad Avenue and increasing the likelihood that people will stop into those entities.

Viking Lake

Biking is more than recreation; it’s an economic development tool. A study from the Iowa Bicycle Coalition and the University of Northern Iowa Sustainable Tourism and Environment Program found that recreational cyclists’ spending generated $364.8 million in direct and indirect impacts across the state; that’s $1 million per day spent for cycling.

Beyond its direct monetary impact, biking also helps Iowans’ health. The study estimates the state saves $73.9 million in healthcare costs for those who bicycle recreationally and another $13.3 million for those who commute via bike.

The Action Steps

Finalize preferred trail route

Eric Paulson and Dick Lovitt, transportation committee, engineers

Seek buy-in from potentially impacted property owners. Work with engineers to finalize route. Complete design and preliminary cost estimates.

Q2 2018

Secure capital for construction & right-of-way acquisition

Eric Paulson and Dick Lovitt, transportation committee

Create fundraising map. Prioritize asks. Consider grant opportunities, including through the Southwest Iowa Planning Council, the Iowa Department of Transportation, and others focused on healthy living. Continue conversations with impacted property owners.

Q3 2019

Secure right of way and easements

Eric Paulson and Dick Lovitt, transportation committee

Continue conversations with impacted property owners. Work with attorney in pro bono capacity to develop and file necessary documents.

Q3 2019

Construct trail

Eric Paulson and Dick Lovitt, transportation committee, engineers

Take project out for bid. Select contractor. Begin construction. Share updates on construction progress frequently, ideally through photos and video. Plan grand opening celebration; consider a group trail ride.

Q2 2020

Makerspace

In a global marketplace that is rapidly expanding, innovation is the name of the game. As a result, local, state, and national leaders have emphasized the STEM – science, technology, engineering, and math – fields. These disciplines help students develop problem solving skills that have a variety of applications.

As of late, leaders are recognizing the importance of integrating the arts into STEM programming and education, moving from STEM to STEAM. The STEAM approach teaches students how to learn, how to ask questions, how to experiment, and how to create. STEAM offerings help students develop both critical and creative thinking skills.

A makerspace will allow Stanton students and adults alike to hone their STEAM skills. This community-oriented workspace will provide a place for people with common interests – in computers, technology, science, art/electronic art, crafts, sewing, and more – to meet, socialize, and collaborate. It also will fill a gap in after school activities for youth not visiting the Viking Center.

The makerspace should be located in a warehouse that is owned by Farmers Mutual Telephone Company (FMTC). Transforming the building from a warehouse to a community makerspace will further cement FMTC’s position as a community pillar and also will position the FMTC team to give back to the community in an even more direct way by mentoring and teaching youth at the makerspace.

The 7,080 SF warehouse is located just north of Thorn Street between Concord Avenue and Broad Avenue. The makerspace will benefit from this central location near downtown, the other placemaking projects, the school, and the Viking Center, allowing people to weave visits to the makerspace into their regular routines.

A survey of Stanton Community Schools high school students and home school students found the most interest in woodworking, welding, game creation, and robotics or electronics. Not surprisingly, students prioritized having computers in the makerspace, followed by the necessary equipment for the previously mentioned activities. The survey also found a strong desire for both formal classes and one-on-one instruction. Community experts should be leveraged as much as possible to provide this instruction. The complete survey results can be found in Appendix E.

In addition to programming, organizers will need to consider potential partnerships, such as with area school districts and Southwestern Community College. These partnerships will help ease the strain on volunteers and could potentially provide a steady revenue stream.

Stanton Community Schools high school students expressed a keen interest in welding, a sentiment echoed by other area high schoolers. As a result of this interest, in 2013, the Red Oak Community School District and Southwestern Community College established the Welding Technology Career Academy, which is located at the Red Oak Community School District Technical Center.

The programed debuted with the intent to provide high school students with basic welding skills as well as opportunities to operate tools, identify different metals, and interpret blueprints. During the one-year program, students complete a prescribed sequence of welding courses that provide them with 12 credits of college and high school credits. If a student successfully completed the five course sequence, they earn a basic welding certificate from Southwestern.

Stanton students currently have the opportunity to travel to the welding classes, which meet from 8 to 9:30 am Monday through Friday during the traditional academic year.

Details on the Welding Technology Career Academy can be found in Appendix F.

To further supplement revenues, organizers should consider developing a membership program. The program should have different membership levels for different levels of access to the space. Options may include weekend only, weekday only, nights/weekends, and an unlimited option. Day passes and corporate programs should be considered, too.

Additionally, makerspace organizers may opt to explore shared membership opportunities in collaboration with the Viking Center. For example, a current member of the Viking Center could qualify for a reduced membership rate at the makerspace in order to ensure both entities receive significant community support.

Finally, to ensure the makerspace is accessible for everyone, makerspace organizers should offer subsidized memberships. One path to consider is an endowment that is seeded with funds derived from the capital campaign.

Total Expenses $82,855
Total Income $89,213
Net Revenue $6,958

The Action Steps

Develop nonprofit to oversee makerspace

Arts and culture committee, education committee

Work with attorney in pro bono capacity to incorporate as 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Develop other guiding documents as necessary. Seat founding board of directors. Consider umbrella nonprofit for artist residency and makerspace.

Q2 2018

Conduct community survey

Makerspace nonprofit

Develop online survey to understand desired equipment and programming offerings. Solicit input beyond Stanton; consider sharing within a 25-mile radius.

Q2 2018

Personalize business plan

Makerspace nonprofit

Customize business plan in Appendix G. Think creatively through potential revenue sources, considering various membership levels, programming, rentals, consulting, etc.

Q3 2018

Design building layout

Makerspace nonprofit, architect, engineers

Using results of community survey and survey of high school students, design building layout. Consider flex space and opportunities for programming growth. Use Grizzly Industrial Workshop Planner (www.grizzly.com/workshopplanner/) as a resource.

Q4 2018

Secure necessary capital

Makerspace nonprofit

Build operational expenses for the first year into the capital campaign as well as the initial equipment investment. Refer to Appendix H for anticipated wood shop costs. Consider establishing a separate maintenance fund. Complete funding roadmap as part of a joint fundraising campaign. Prioritize funding asks.

Q1 2019

Complete buildout and prepare for opening

Makerspace nonprofit, architect, engineers

Take project out for bid. Select contractor. Begin construction. Share updates on construction progress frequently, ideally through photos and video. Simultaneously secure instructors for the various courses and determine operating hours. Plan grand opening celebration.

Q3 2019

Grocery Lockers

Accessing nutritious, affordable food can be challenging, especially for rural residents. Many have to travel to other communities to get their groceries, while others rely on convenience stores that often sell more expensive and less nutritious options. The goal, then, becomes getting healthier options to Stanton while maintaining a relatively low cost.

Fortunately, rapidly growing technologies are transforming the marketplace. Also the transforming the marketplace: The recognition that rural markets have largely remained untapped and that they present a huge economic possibility for all kinds of businesses. For Stanton, these parallel developments mean opportunity – both in terms of improving food access in the community and in being a leader in offering the amenities needed to attract and retain talent in a global marketplace.

While a number of options exist to get nutritious food to Stanton, the best return on investment will be seen by installing grocery lockers. Grocery lockers tap into existing online ordering systems, such as Hy-Vee’s, and also require much less investment than a full grocery store. Of course, grocery lockers present significantly lower risk than a full store, too.

In 2015, Hy-Vee launched its Hy-Vee Aisles Online program, which lets customers shop online when and where they want. Consumers simply select the items they want, pay online, and then choose to have the groceries delivered or pick them up at the store.

After the order is placed, an Aisles Online personal shopper selects the items, ensuring freshness and order accuracy. Then, the groceries are kept in climate-controlled totes until they are either picked up or delivered. If an order is over $100, both pick-up and delivery are free; for smaller orders, pick-up is a $2.95 fee, while delivery is a $4.95 fee.

Grocery How It Works

The lockers should be located at a prominent community location. Top spots to consider are the Viking Center and Casey’s. Many Stanton residents already visit these locations, again minimizing hassle for people looking to regain time with their families.

To minimize the risk for the Red Oak Hy-Vee, the store should consider an agreement either with the City of Stanton or another entity that guarantees a certain amount per month. This will ensure that Hy-Vee is able to cover its costs and that Stanton residents receive their orders without interruption. An unscientific survey of residents found that nearly 63 percent would commit to spending more than $100 per month on groceries to guarantee this service; 31 percent would commit to spending over $150. The results of this survey can be found in Appendix I. It is important to note that each order must be over $100 for assure free delivery.

6 Basic Facts About Grocery Lockers:

  • They’re high tech.
  • They work inside and outside.
  • They’re cool – literally.
  • They report to property managers.
  • Residents love them.
  • They can help keep and attract residents.

Adapted from PARCEL Media

The Action Steps

Determine Logistical Details

Stanton community leaders, Red Oak Hy-Vee

Determine cost of acquiring and installing lockers, utility fees, etc. Determine minimum number of customers or minimum weekly spend. Consider how the existing delivery to the Stanton Child Resource Center can play into this and help meet the community minimum. Determine delivery details, assess when a second delivery may be considered, and identify preferred location; work with property owner to develop partnership agreement. Work with City of Stanton to understand any zoning requirements that must be met.

Q3 2018

Secure capital for locker system

Stanton community leaders

Work with Red Oak Hy-Vee to understand costs of acquiring, installing, and operating lockers. Develop funding roadmap. Prioritize organizations that focus on addressing food access issues and human health. Place the Iowa West Foundation at the top of the list; healthy families is one of their four focus areas.

Q4 2018

Market and launch program

Stanton community leaders, Red Oak Hy-Vee

Create and deploy strategic marketing program to create awareness about lockers. Launch a press release when lockers are installed, celebrating their placement in rural America and the food access they will bring to the community. Host a ribbon cutting and community celebration with a special delivery of ice cream treats.

Q2 2018

Tarkio No. 645 Masonic Lodge Mixed Use Revitalization

Over the two blocks it stretches, the downtown Stanton streetscape is cohesive. The buildings are mostly a century old – and older – in vintage, all presenting one or two stories in height with a mostly unified setback. The buildings run nearly uninterrupted, with few “missing buildings” or modern intrusions.

Several of the buildings have intact cast iron storefronts and metal cornices – rare surviving features. Other notable buildings include architecturally rich banks, two fraternal halls located above storefronts, an intact lumberyard, and a vintage service/oil station. Collectively, the business district buildings may qualify as a commercial historic district. More information on the district and this opportunity can be found in Appendix J.

Individually, the Tarkio No. 645 Masonic Lodge stands as a prime redevelopment opportunity. The Montgomery County Assessor dates this two-story masonry building to 1900. Cast iron columns and beam frame the late 20th century storefront. The upper fraternal lodge meeting space was reportedly used as the town hall and a movie theater before it was purchased by the Masons. Today, intact decorative metal ceilings and wood flooring is found on both floors of the partially vacant building.

In May 2017, the Stanton Area Industrial Foundation (SAIF) purchased the historic Tarkio No. 645 Masonic Lodge located at 312 Broad Avenue with the intention of rehabilitating an iconic property on Main Street to stimulate downtown redevelopment efforts. Given its history, condition, and location, the building is ideal for mixed use revitalization that will attract and retain top talent in Stanton. The vision is to renovate the façade, re-roof the building, add one lower-level and two upper story apartment units, and rehabilitate the two commercial spaces. One of the commercial spaces is currently occupied by a hair salon, while the other offers a quaint niche space.

Mixed Use Hair Salon

The Action Steps

Determine buildout costs for space

Stanton Area Industrial Foundation, architect, contractor

Finalize desired buildout concept. Work with contractor to obtain quotes for various elements.

Q2 2018

Secure funding to complete Tarkio 645 renovation

Stanton Area Industrial Foundation

Await announcement of Iowa Economic Development Authority Community Catalyst Building Remediation Program grantees. If successful, reaffirm local commitments and proceed. If not, develop funding roadmap and begin pursuing additional funds beyond already committed local dollars. Explore other state and federal programs in addition to funders focused on architecture, economic development, placemaking, and downtown revitalization; use Design Funding Trailblazers (designfunders.org) as a resource.

Q2 2018

Complete improvements on Tarkio 645

Stanton Area Industrial Foundation

Using the revitalization strategy in Appendix K and previously received cost estimates as a reference point, take project out for bid. Once bids are in, choose contractor and begin construction. As with other projects, share updates on renovation progress.

Q1 2019

Find Tarkio 645 tenants

Stanton Area Industrial Foundation, Montgomery County Economic Development

Launch strategic marketing efforts to fill Tarkio 645. Base these efforts on market segmentation research. Work with community members to understand if an in-home business wants to move to the smaller commercial space. Use social media to fill apartments; consider limited incentives if filling the units proves to be challenging.

Q2 2019

Restaurant

The Corner Bar and Grill

Stanton is fortunate in that there is both strong community interest in supporting a full-service restaurant and the financial ability to do so. Although it has a population of under 700, it is extremely unique in that the median household income is above the state average. Additionally, in creating the Viking Center, the community has a proven track record of coming together to develop and support the operation of a local enterprise that benefits the entire community.

The key to success for a new restaurant will be fully embracing the spirit of Stanton – essentially creating a location beyond the Viking Center and makerspace for people to congregate and celebrate. Developed correctly, there also is strong potential for this new restaurant to draw patrons from outside the community by offering a game day retreat for sports enthusiasts as well as drawing in attendees at local athletic events and tournaments and campers and visitors to the state park.

The Corner Bar and Grill would occupy a community-identified building located at the corner of Broad Avenue and Thorn Street. The bones of the identified space are excellent. It has both an obvious operational flow and a strong potential for creating a “vibe” that capitalizes on current restaurant interior trends that highlight the “reclaimed,” “repurposed,” and original elements of a building (in this case, the original brick walls, wood floor, and ornate ceiling) while offering a gastropub-style menu (modern takes on classic bar food) and a solid selection of domestic favorites and Iowa craft beers both on tap and by the bottle.

Restaurant Suggested Location

From the moment guests walk in to The Corner Bar and Grill, there will be no question that they have entered a sports bar. Eight to twelve flat screen televisions will ensure everyone’s favorite team and/or sport can be seen on a screen. There will be seating at the bar for fifteen with an additional four high top bar tables along the wall (27 seats) and another 50-60 seats in the “dining” area in front. Tables in the front will primarily be four tops but can easily be reconfigured for larger groups. It is strongly suggested that the green chairs currently being stored in the building be cleaned and repurposed for the dining area. The entire team agreed they were “awesome.”

The gastropub menu will offer burgers, wings, and sandwiches and will also include daily specials to draw crowds including steak and Iowa chops with a focus on locally sourced produce and proteins. Daily specials will need to be marketed as “food events,” and the owner will need to resist adding the most popular specials to the daily menu. Consumers across all demographics have clearly identified a desire to “have an experience” as a far preferable way to spend money than to purchase an item; nightly specials can tap into this desire.

Beyond the sports bar experience, The Corner Bar and Grill will fully embrace, promote, and capitalize on the pride and history of Stanton. Any décor beyond the brick walls should be minimal, but what is there will feature memorabilia or historic photos celebrating the community —particularly its one-time minor league baseball team. It will be important for the establishment to tie itself to every community and school event. If there is a fundraiser, The Corner Bar and Grill needs to be a central part of it — whether this means providing food or sponsoring or hosting a party. The Corner Bar and Grill will need to embody Stanton pride.

More details on The Corner Bar and Grill can be found in Appendix L.

Hours of Operation

 

Monday – Thursday 4 PM – 9 PM
Friday 4 PM – 12 AM
Saturday 11 AM – 12 AM
Sunday 11 AM – 9 PM

The Action Steps

Recruit Owner/Operator With A Strong Business Background

Placemaking steering committee, Montgomery County Development Corporation, Iowa Restaurant Association

Secure building. Work with city and county to secure incentives. If owner is not operator, secure a favorable lease structure to attract tenant. Look for someone who will be visible and present in the restaurant. The best choice for this role is someone with strong ties to the community.

Q3 2018

Develop Buildout Concept

Architect, owner/operator, Montgomery County Development Corporation

Personalize business plan in Appendix L to capitalize on current restaurant interior trends and to offer a gastropub-style restaurant. Be sure to play up Stanton’s history and lead with Stanton pride.

Q4 2018

Secure Capital To Complete Buildout

Owner/operator, Montgomery County Development Corporation

Seek local incentives and local financial institution to ensure favorable, low-risk financing. Be sure to share construction progress online to build excitement for The Corner Bar and Grill ahead of opening.

Q2 2019

Hire Staff And Open

Owner/operator

Hire appropriate staff for various shifts, with the expectation of increased staff on weekends. For front of house, plan on 1 staff member for every 5-6 tables per shift. For back of house, plan on 3 staff per shift. For support staff, plan on 1-2 bussers and dishwashers per shift. Look to local students in need of a first or part-time job. If possible, overstaff initially; that way, if some team members don’t work out, there are still adequate numbers of trainer personnel to provide a strong first impression. Plan and host grand opening celebration.

Q3 2019

Conclusion

A new recreational center, fiber connectivity, new water lines throughout the city, and, in the last two years, fourteen new homes. For most rural communities, this is a wishlist that likely will never come to fruition. For Stanton, this is just a sampling of the community enhancements that have been made since 2010.

Still, Stanton isn’t the community that sits back and says we’re doing well enough. Stanton leaders are visionary and determined to continue the community’s ascent. This placemaking action plan is step one, but the real work lies in steps two, three, four, and beyond.

Step two in the process is to grow the bench. Stanton’s recent success is due to its current cohort of community leaders. While incredibly effective, it is not possible for this group to take on seven additional projects on top of what they already are leading. Additionally, growing the bench now gives younger leaders the opportunity to learn from more seasoned leaders – an invaluable experience for all involved, including the community.

Step three is to prioritize and implement. Where will the community expend energy first? Perhaps it’s based on what project will be most catalytic. Maybe it’s which will be the easiest with willing partners already lined up, or maybe it’s based on which will be the easiest to fund. Regardless of the prioritization, it is imperative for the community to take this strategy and run with it immediately to achieve the best results.

Finally, step four is to expand the vision. The community needs to look at what other projects, big or small, will enhance the placemaking projects and position Stanton to best tell its story as it prepares to celebrate its 150th birthday in 2019.

By implementing this full suite of projects, Stanton truly will be a choice community: A place where people young and old feel a sense of belonging. A place where you have opportunities to succeed regardless of your socioeconomic status. And a place where you want to live, work, play, and raise a family.

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