City officials in Grinnell plan to apply for federal grant money to help pay for fixing up the store fronts in downtown Grinnell.

“It’s very important for us to maintain our downtown and continually improve it,” says Grinnell Mayor Gordon Canfield says. “If we don’t do that, business goes elsewhere.”

Thirteen buildings in downtown Grinnell need over $1.5 million worth of work — from replacing doors and windows to fixing the brickwork. The mayor says the city will apply for a half-million-dollar Community Development Block Grant.

“All of this has to be done in cooperation with and in partnership with the building owners,” Canfield says.

The owners of the buildings will be asked to cover $313,000 of the project costs. That would be 20 percent of the total bill. The city would pay half million dollars and Grinnell College will contribute the remaining quarter million.

Grinnell’s downtown is on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s most famous building is the “jewel box” Merchants National Bank — designed by the legendary architect Louis Sullivan. The 1914 building is now home to the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce.

(Reporting by Chris Johnson, KGRN, Grinnell)