Governor Pete Ricketts presented the City of Hastings with the Showcase Community Award in April, 2017.
The Showcase Community Award recognizes Nebraska communities that have displayed outstanding achievements in community development over the past five years, as well as innovative uses of CDBG funds to meet program objectives.
In Hastings, a series of projects has generated economic growth and brought new vitality to the downtown district, while directly benefitting citizens through infrastructure improvement.
Downtown Façade Improvement Program Sparks New Housing, Local Business
Since 2013, the CDBG-assisted Façade Improvement Program in downtown Hastings has contributed to a larger effort to transform formerly aging, blighted buildings into contemporary housing complexes and thriving commercial businesses.
On downtown Second Street, a century-old dilapidated building is now the site of “Uptown Experience,” a rejuvenated complex containing five luxury lofts and a contemporary first-floor restaurant. Close by, the renovated Block 27 Lofts are home to a popular ground-level microbrewery, with the addition of a highly-anticipated restaurant slated for 2018. A second microbrewery, with plans for large-scale product distribution, has opened in a repurposed building on First Street. Approximately $377,000 in CDBG program funds have been vital to the success of Hastings’ downtown revitalization efforts, providing the financial resources for exterior façade work, ADA accessibility upgrades, and parking improvements in the target area.
Multipurpose Center Energizes Downtown Events, Culture
A performance space for local and touring musicians, “the Listening Room” had been a Hastings institution since it was founded in 1991. But owner Robin Harrell and community leaders had a greater vision for the outdated venue, which had long made its home in a rented space downtown.
With support from the City’s Redevelopment Authority, Harrell worked with stakeholders to not only relocate the Listening Room, but transform it into a modern arts and cultural center that would benefit the entire community and attract people to the downtown area. With the assistance of $300,000 from the CDBG program and funding from local donations, renovations to an aging downtown building commenced, and by 2013, “the Lark” was open to the public. Today, the facility is a multi-purpose performance, music, arts, conference, and events center featuring contemporary design and superior acoustics. The new facility is sparking commerce and has added appeal to the downtown district.
Residents Benefit from Commitment to Infrastructure Improvement
With the assistance of approximately $1.1 million in total CDBG awards, Hastings has carried out extensive infrastructure improvements since 2013, directly impacting citizens and improving travel throughout the city. ADA accessible ramps added to over 80 sidewalks have created new, convenient routes for seniors and people with disabilities. Meanwhile, street and sidewalk repairs throughout residential neighborhoods are estimated to have benefitted at least a thousand low and moderate income residents to date. Additionally, ongoing development of the Pioneer Spirit Trail is expanding pedestrian, bicycle, and exercise routes and encouraging active modes of travel.