Main Street

Tour focuses on what FD has — and what it needs

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Matt Doyle, owner of the historic Snell Building, stands on its rooftop Wednesday evening during a historic architecture walk hosted by Main Street Fort Dodge.The building was built in 1914 using glazed brick, which was the most expensive brick available at the time at $65 per 1,000, according to Doyle.

Downtowns are a place where people generally like to feel enclosed, according to Tim Reinders, design specialist for Main Street Iowa.

Reinders was on hand for an architecture walk Wednesday night that included a tour of the historic Snell Building and a stroll down Central Avenue.

Fort Dodge was designated as a Main Street Iowa community in August.

Main Street Iowa is a program led by the Iowa Economic Development Authority. Its goal is to improve the downtown area of the cities that are part of the program.

The architecture tour was a chance for Reinders, city officials and guests to get an up close look at what can be done to improve the city’s center.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Tim Reinders, design specialist with Main Street Iowa, talks about downtown Fort Dodge inside the Snell Building Wednesday evening.

“Downtowns are about storefront after storefront,” Reinders said. “There’s some voids here in downtown.”

“In places like Chicago there aren’t those voids,” Reinders added. “People like that density and enclosure. That’s one of those things that makes it more exciting. As we are walking around it’s something to think about. Trying to get that retail continuity back.”

Reinders said some areas of the downtown have been encompassed by parking.

“Fort Dodge is kind of like you don’t know where you should be,” he said. “Half blocks were cleared for parking.”

One feature Reinders liked about some of the buildings in downtown was the glass on storefronts.

“Having glass gives you a different feel as you walk by,” he said. “It’s pedestrian-friendly. It’s more inviting.”

Reinders said it’s important for all storefronts to have that transparency.

As Reinders looked over a historic downtown photo inside the Snell Building, he discussed how signage has changed on main streets through the years.

Hanging signs were much more prevalent in downtowns in the past, he said.

As far as the Snell Building, Reinders said if any renovations were made, the lobby would be a good starting point.

“If you are going to do one spot, the lobby is a great place to get that wow factor,” he said.

A new nonprofit organization will be formed to support the Main Street Iowa program. The organization will tackle issues such as signage, storefronts and architecture.

The group will be co-located with the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance, Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way, and the Fort Dodge Convention and Visitors Bureau.

A design, promotion, economic vitality and organization committee will serve under the Main Street director, who will work under the Self Supported Municipal Improvement District. Between six and 10 people will serve on each committee.

An executive director to run the Main Street program in Fort Dodge is expected to be named in the coming months.

Seven people have applied for the job.

SSMID will oversee that director and the Main Street program in Fort Dodge.