MASON CITY — Mason City is one of 14 communities statewide awarded a Main Street Iowa Challenge Grant by the Iowa Economic Development Authority that will help renovate upper-floor apartments in a downtown building. Those grants will benefit local improvement projects, including upper story renovations, critical building stabilization, and facade restoration and upgrades. Main Street Mason City executive director Emily Ginneberge says it was a competitive process to apply for one of the challenge grants. “From what the Main Street Iowa folks had told us, this was the year that they had the most applications sent in. They awarded over $1 million to smaller Iowa communities, and Mason City just happened to be selected for one of them. $75,000 will go to a specific project. The application process is pretty rigorous, takes a long time and months preparing. This application that we put in was for Jay Lala, and is going to his building at 201 North Federal.” Ginneberge says seven upper-floor apartments in that building will be renovated as part of a $250,000 project. She says three of the apartments will be of a luxury apartment style, while the other four apartments will be one-bedroom suites.” Ginneberge says the project is another improvement for the downtown area. “We need more housing, so this is going to be really wonderful asset for our downtown. Considering all of the incredible things that are going on right now, it’s just going to continue to develop even more and more, and we’re seeing it already with this River City Renaissance project. I can’t wait to see what it’s going to look like downtown in 2020.” Since the first Main Street Challenge Grants were awarded in 2002, about $10.6 million in state and federal funds has leveraged more than $59 million in private investment. Over the life of the program, 179 projects in 54 Main Street Iowa commercial districts across the state have received funding.