Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

CNHI/Southeast Iowa

May 20, 2013

Reviving downtown's upper stories

(Continued)

OTTUMWA —

"We closed on the building in March last year," said Scupien, who lives in the apartment on the back side of the building. "There were Main Street grants available and we both wanted to live downtown. Whether we got the grant or not, we were going to do it."

But Main Street Ottumwa did receive the $50,000 Challenge Grant from Main Street Iowa, as well as city-awarded funds for the facade of the building and a buy-down loan. In the end, it cost $180,000 to bring the second floor up to code.

"The whole back wall was collapsing and you could see through parts of the roof," Scupien said. "There was no water, no electricity, no windows. The upstairs had sat empty for 50 to 60 years."

Down the road at 332 E. Main St., visitors got a look at three of the four apartments above Appanoose Rapids Brewing Company, which were completed six months ago and are now all occupied.

This space had also sat empty for 50 to 60 years, said Tim Schwartz. The original plan for the second floor of the building, after it was purchased in 2006, was to convert it into apartments. After the restaurant opened in 2010, the focus turned to the second floor.

"It's great to be able to create more density downtown and that community, neighborhood feeling," Schwartz said.

The final stop on the tour was 113 E. Main St., the former location of Bookin Jewelry. The first floor will become the site of the Lead Ottumwa Leadership Academy and the second floor will become two apartments, pending an announcement of whether Ottumwa will be awarded an adaptive re-use grant to create several new apartments in the upper stories of downtown buildings.

The first floor will be completed in mid-June, said Hollie Tometich, director of the leadership academy. Her first class will graduate on June 20 and an open house will give the public a look at the final results of the rehabilitation sometime in July.

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about the solicitation ordinance that will prevent groups or individuals from entering a roadway to solicit money. The Centerville City Council in June by a 5-0 vote passed the first reading of just such an ordinance. Public pressure and during a subsequent special meeting, the council voted 3-2 to table the ordinance. A second special meeting to discuss the solicitation ordinance is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7 at City Hall. So, the question of the week is, "Do you or do you not support the ordinance to prevent solicitation of funds in city streets?"

A. I support the ordinance
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