Fort Madison hopes to expand businesses, neighborhoods with new - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Fort Madison hopes to expand businesses, neighborhoods with new plan

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FORT MADISON, Ia. (WGEM) -

Officials in Fort Madison say a history of a declining population, some vacant buildings and open land near a newly opened bypass are all windows of opportunity to expand their city in the future.

The new vision for the city is outlined in the city's new comprehensive plan that is set to be revealed soon.

City officials say in their new comprehensive plan they are focusing on attracting new businesses and residential neighborhoods near open land by the bypass opened in 2011.

Downtown revitalization is also in the new plan, and one business owner says she thinks the downtown area has a lot to offer and any improvement would be helpful.

The Ivy Bake Shoppe and Cafe has been in Fort Madison's downtown area for 17 years, and owner Susan Saunders said it's businesses like hers that gives the city it's unique flare.

"Because we don't have malls, we've really worked hard to keep our downtown very vital and doing small shops that cater to certain interests to people," said Saunders.

Fort Madison City Manager Byron Smith said in the city's newest comprehensive plan, they are putting an emphasis on improving the downtown area.

"Revitalizing some of the older buildings downtown. We have the former Sheaffer Pen Plant just sitting there and how could we better use that space," said Smith. 

Smith said he would like to fill more of the vacant spaces and fix some of the building facades in the downtown area as well.

Another area of focus in the new plan is the land by the bypass that opened near Fort Madison in 2011.

"Along the highway we see that continuing to develop commercial and behind that between the bypass and the business route there would be some potential for residential development," said Smith.  

Smith said he hopes this would attract more people to his city that has a history of a declining population.

Saunders said if the city is able to attract people to Fort Madison, she thinks the city would grow.

"I think we are able to pull in people from out of town coming for a day trip where they can come have lunch at the Ivy or any nice restaurant downtown and then go shopping on the two or three block avenue," said Saunders. 

Smith said the city will hold a public meeting about the comprehensive plan on April 18 from 5-7 p.m. in the Fort Madison Community Hospital Business Center.

Here is a link to a map of their tentative plan: http://rdgusa.com/crp/downloads/Future_Land_Use_with_Legend_(web).jpg

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