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New crafts, clothing store receives redevelopment funds

POLSON – Updates to a long-empty Main Street storefront will be made with the help of funds from the Polson Redevelopment Agency. 

Carol Lynn Lapotka, owner of Eddie Boy LLC, has purchased 212 Main Street, the former home of Jackie M’s footwear. She plans to use the storefront to sell Montana-made art and her own clothing line, which is made of recycled cloth.

According to the application, the PRA will award the business $18,895 for structural improvements to the storefront including removal of the awning, installation of wood flooring and updates to the electrical system. 

The funds come from the Tax Increment Finance district. TIF districts are areas that have been identified as “blighted” or unsightly. A portion of the taxes from those areas is directed into a fund to improve those districts. The commission can award them to businesses or individuals to support projects that will spur development of blighted areas. 

Lapotka said a part of the store would be dedicated to supporting local artists. Artists will be able to display their wares, learn how to run the business end of their ventures and photograph their products for marketing. The other half of the space will house the production of Lapotka’s line of recycled clothing. Customers will be able to watch staff make and then purchase garments that are sewed on site. 

Lapotka, who has run her “upcycled” clothing line for 13 years out of her home in St. Ignatius, said the business has been successful. The new retail space will allow her to expand. Lapotka also has experience working to support creative Montanans as an organizer of Montana Made Fairs in cities around the state. The fairs give artists opportunities to sell their work.

At the meeting, the commission discussed the efficacy and fairness of the application for redevelopment funds. A member of the public pointed out that while the PRA has been marketing the funds to business owners, residents can also apply for redevelopment funds to update substandard housing. The citizen alleged that taxpayer funds were being used “to line the pockets of downtown individuals on Main Street,” instead of benefitting the average city resident. 

To date, the commission has not awarded any funds to residential improvement projects. There are 507 residential units in the PRA’s target area. Commissioner Stephen Turner agreed that funds weren’t being effectively marketed for improving residential units. The commission approved the updated application for redevelopment funds, but commissioner Bob Martin called for another review of the application process in six to eight months.

In other commission business, commissioners unanimously approved the city’s finding of fact on Emily’s Haven Subdivision, giving their final approval to the subdivision. The commission had approved the minor subdivision on Feb. 20 following a public hearing on the matter. The existing lot off Shoreline Drive will be divided into two lots for single-family residences. 

 

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