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Creston Arts' renovated building signifies city's revitalization

The Creston Arts Council welcomed the community Friday to see its newly renovated building—the latest improvement for Uptown Creston.

CRESTON, Iowa — Shyla Stow has been involved with the Creston Arts Council since she was a junior high.

"One day my mom was like, 'Hey, let's try out this art camp," the 17-year-old recalled.

Her answer: "Let's do it!"

For the few years she been part of it, she's learned a lot, from pottery to looming.

"It was honestly so amazing," she said.

The program has set her on a new path.

"Being young and in the zone of art, you know, it was cool," she said. "I saw something in myself."

That non-profit, which Stow is still a part of, now has a new home in a newly renovated building that sat vacant for decades.

"We really wanted to be leaders in the community development of the uptown and so taking a building that was pretty blighted and making it into something to be very proud of... we really love the opportunity to be a part of that," said Bryan Zachary, board chairman for Creston Arts, Inc.

The organization welcomed nearly 100 community members to an open house Friday. It hopes its new home will not only help increase access to art programs for Creston youth, but that it will be step toward growing and improving the community.

"Towns that have led with art survived the pandemic [and] the economic downturns a lot better than towns that didn't," said Zachary. "Towns that have artists—the property values go up more than any other single profession that will move into your town."

This is just the latest development Creston has seen. More projects are in the pipeline, according to the city's chamber of commerce.

"There are several other buildings in our uptown area that have been purchased by a developer from St. Louis that plans to renovate the buildings," said Ellen Gerharz, executive director of the Creston Chamber of Commerce. "There really is quite a little bit going on in Creston."

Stow, who grew up in the city that is now home to nearly 8,000, is watching her community change in ways she never imagined.

"Now when I take a walk... it's honestly so beautiful to just sit there and actually admire the town for what it is," she said.

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