MARION, IL (KFVS) - The City of Marion is on a mission to make the town square more attractive, and, so far, more than $120,000 has been spent revitalizing the area.
The city's original train depot is still standing, and just recently landed with a new owner
On Monday, Nov. 7, the city plans to approve a request by the owner for $10,000 in rehab money.
Known as "Downtown Restoration Loans" in Marion, the recipient only has to pay back half of the money over a five year period.
The other half is considered a grant.
The catch: it must be used to improve the business's curb appeal and facade.
City officials said that's an effort to help "the square" compete with nearby I-57 for attention of new businesses.
"It seems like all of the small places are disappearing because of the corporate businesses," Marion resident Dan Devore said.
Next door to the Depot, Matt Throgmorton just recently purchased a long-time music shop and is happy to see changes being made near his storefront.
"As a business owner, those grants will definitely help to make it more attractive and make it a place that customers will want to come down and see," Throgmorton said.
Local tavern John Brown's on the Square burned in January of 2016 and the owner said he was approved for the same grant while rebuilding.
"What it did for my business was allow me to refurbish the front of the building to much more of its original architecture and period," Owner John Brown said. "That, I never would have been able to do on my own."
As far as what the cost is for taxpayers, no new revenue streams have been needed so far for the improvements.
A city commissioner explained the money comes from the City of Marion's general fund.