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Town reaches out to fill storefronts

By Mary
Proquest LLC

want to know more? For more information or an application for Bellevue's Summer Pop-Up Program, call 563-872-5830 or email tochamber@bellevueia.com. Application deadline is Thursday, May 1.BELLEVUE, Iowa - One small Iowa town has come up with a novel plan to fill some of its vacant storefronts for the summer season.

Two economic development groups in Bellevue hope to lure new retail businesses downtown with an offer of free rent for four months. The Bellevue Area Chamber of Commerce is organizing the program and the Bellevue Economic and Tourism Association will pay half the monthly rents for storefronts with participating landlords agreeing to waive the rest. Tenants must pay all utilities.

"This will not only offer more retail options for our own residents, but it will hopefully create more foot traffic to benefit our existing retailers," said Nick Hueneke, association treasurer. "We don't have specific types of businesses we want here."

Participants will be selected by a committee with representatives from the association and chamber with input from the property owners, according to Deanna Cook, chamber director. The committee will choose businesses based on "appeal of their product mix for summer shoppers, how well the concept complements current full-time retailers and the viability of their business model," Cook said.

Several storefronts of various sizes will be available on Riverview Street and at least one on State Street. One space is already leased.

Cook detailed some of the guidelines prospective retailers must follow:

* Create a visually appealing window display

* Maintain required store hours during the season

* Set up phone, Internet and credit card processing systems

* Comply with any insurance requirements

* Allow the property owner to place a "For Lease" sign on the property.

"We hope this will reactivate empty high-traffic retail spaces in town and allow businesses to explore the retail market in Bellevue," Cook said. "Ultimately we hope some of these turn into long-term lease situations that add to our overall retail mix in the downtown area."

Although its scenic location on the banks of the Mississippi River attracts tourists in all seasons, the town often struggles with empty storefronts throughout its downtown. Retail sales for the past fiscal year saw a decline of half a million dollars over the previous year.

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Copyright:(c) 2014 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.
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