The towns of DeWitt, Neola and Elma have been awarded state grants to help finance community improvement projects. Iowa Department of Economic Development spokesperson Jessica O’Riley says the Vision Iowa Board has approved a $1 million grant toward the construction of a new performing arts center in the Clinton County town of DeWitt.
The 799-seat auditorium will be located at Central Community High School. “It’s a great collaboration between the city and the school district,” O’Riley said. “The auditorium will be on the school grounds but the community will have full access to it.” The project in DeWitt is expected to cost nearly $6.5 million.
Planners intentionally decided to limit seating to 799 because the cost of royalties for many plays and musicals increases in an 800-plus seat facility. The western Iowa town of Neola is receiving an $18,000 grant. The project in Neola involves restoration of front facade of the 97-year-old Phoenix Theater.
The interior of the theater is also being remodeled, but that work was completed before organizers submitted an application for state funding. The entire project carries a price tag of $46,000. In the northeast Iowa town of Elma, located in Howard County, a project is receiving $140,000 in state aid.
“The Elma project is the renovation of their Memorial Hall,” O’Riley said. The project also includes the renovation of a former railroad depot into a welcome center and trail head. The total project cost is nearly $489,000.
The Vision Iowa Board met Wednesday in Clear Lake. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for October 13 in Dubuque.