3-Block Downtown Revitalization

The 3 blocks between West Madison to West Lincoln Way Streets, running along South Elm and South Vine Streets have been a hotbed of activity in Jefferson. Home to the community center, middle school and the Greene County Early Learning Center, these blocks are facing some coming changes. The school bond referendum will likely create a new middle school, leaving the current building without a plan, and the Day Care Center is in need of a significant renovation. We believe this presents the perfect opportunity to remake these 3 blocks into the next catalytic project for downtown Jefferson.
A few projects have been identified for Jefferson including an aquatic park, new playground and the need for more residential rental units. We recommend pairing these concepts with the existing projects in the 3-block radius.

The center, operating out of a former grade school, needs to not only grow in space, but also remodel it’s rooms. Initially, the non-profit was looking at building new at a different location. However cost, and the ability to be a part of a major project on the 3 blocks has moved the board’s thinking toward one of the following options: stay and expand the current facilities, or build a new facility directly next to the current facility and tear down the existing facility for use as parking. The renovation would include a new, state-of-the-art playground center just behind the building to the north. A just completed study done by the Day Care estimates the project cost at $2,300,000.

Sitting adjacent to the playground, the community has envisioned a splash park with zero-entry pools for children to utilize in the warmer months. This space would be open to the public and include daytime activity for the children in the day care.

This will largely be a private sector deal. A developer needs to be identified to take on ownership of the building. It is anticipated that the gymnasium building will likely come down to make room for more green space. Community should plan on an incentive package of about $500,000.

In order to make the entire 3 block radius fully walkable and safe, it is recommended that Harrison Street, between Elm and Vine Streets, be vacated from vehicular to pedestrian. This will allow for further green space to be included in the overall plan. City of Jefferson will be responsible for street closure.

The indoor element of the aquatic park will be attached to the current community center and, ideally, operated by the City. This space will need to have a diverse concession stand in order to help offset much of the operational costs to the City. Estimated cost: $2,000,000.

Iowa Funding

  • Enhance Iowa

Federal Funding

  • USDA Matching Grant
  • Economic Dev. Authority Grant

National Foundations

  • Kresge Foundation
  • Ford Foundation
  • Knight Foundation
  • US Bank Foundation
  • Wells Fargo Foundation
  • Pew Foundation
  • Discover Card Foundation
  • Chan Zuckerberg Communities Thrive Initative

Action Steps

Create Capital Campaign Committee (CCC)

GCDC board, Greene County Supervisors, and the City of Jefferson

Identify 7-20 passionate local leaders to help guide the process and elect 1-3 members as chair(s) to drive campaign.

Q1 2020

Finalize real costs for parks

CCC and architects, engineers, and contractors

Work with professional services to take the plan we created and price out all projects/concepts. Expenses for capital in 2017 dollars are exaggerated to hopefully fit 2020 reality.

Q1 2020

Develop fundraising strategy and campaign launch


Spread support over 3-5 years by working with local financial institution providing low-interest construction bridge loan backed by donors. Campaign should last 18 months. Raise ½ of campaign before full campaign is announced to community. Start construction when ¾ campaign pledges are reached.

Q2 2020