St. Charles is eyeing the former Mary Rents building at the corner of Fifth Street and Boone's Lick Road as a and a transportation hub for the city.
The tourism center and transportation hub are part of $14.5 million proposed improvement project for the Fifth Street and First Capitol corridor. The city plans to apply for a federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery 3 Discretionary Grant to fund the project.
TIGER 3 grants are being awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation for infrastructure projects that would have a significant impact on a metropolitan area. If awarded, a TIGER grant could fund up to 80 percent of the project.
"There are so many good points that we're hitting on with this project," City Engineer Kevin Corwin said. "These TIGER grants are incredibly competitive. We have a 1 in 100 shot, a 1 percent chance."
Corwin said the Fifth Street corridor project was the farthest along in the design and planning and most suited to a TIGER 3 grant. In June the city held a series of meetings with the community in June to that would include urban housing, retail and restaurants.
"In order to get to a dollar threshold that we thought would be a competitive application we had to include streetscape improvements, road widening and beautification," Corwin said.
Corwin added that the possible transportation hub would be a home for the St. Charles Area Transit (SCAT) system, bike lockers and a place for tour buses to stop. The grants are aimed at projects that encourage alternative modes of transportation.
"The real focus of this center is transportation," he said.
Corwin said because the project includes beautification and streetscape changes to First Capitol Drive, the city plans to get input from business owners and homeowners who live on First Capitol Drive.
A public meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 19 at in the fellowship hall.
Final applications for the TIGER grants are due Oct. 31.
Corwin said the city is interested in these improvements even if they don't receive the grant.
"It may take a much longer time and need to be performed in small phases without the grant," he wrote in an email.