The Ottumwa Courier

March 19, 2013

Financial incentive draws development company to revamp downtown building

CHELSEA DAVIS
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — A financial incentive helped the city attract a local development company to revive a downtown building.

After the city received no proposals to redevelop the building at 117 and 119 E. Main St. last year, they banded together with Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation to provide up to $100,000 to reimburse a company's expenditures for a new roof and other improvements on the building.

Parkview Plaza, Inc., directed by the Schwartz family, of Ottumwa, was the only company to submit a proposal. The City Council will discuss the proposal at its meeting tonight.

"We look forward to the fact that the structure can be saved," said Planning and Development Director Dave Shafer. "It's a key structure within the middle of the block. It's a great project and it'll be placed back on the tax rolls."

The city-owned building is a financial liability, Shafer previously said, which the city had at one point considered simply demolishing.

Parkview will accept the property in its "as is" condition and will repair the roof "from weather and animals," as well as improve the first floor to be used as a retail space.

"The roof is a problem," Shafer said. "They also plan on razing or demolishing the rear portion of the building. If you look at it, there's a section that is toward the alley, a little over 100 feet, that they'll demolish because it's structurally so poor from the roof all the way down through."

And if the city is awarded grant funds through the CDBG adaptive re-use application it sent in February, Parkview will also be required to construct four to six apartments on the second and third floors of the building within three years.

ORLF CEO and president Brad Little previously said the city did not receive the initial CDBG adaptive re-use grant last summer in part due to the deteriorating building.

“It was by far, of all the buildings we included in that application, off the chart in terms of cost per square foot to renovate it,” Little previously said. “The building’s in deplorable condition, so it got us thinking about how might we help.

“Once the roofs start leaking, that leads to all kinds of other problems. Over the years the leaking roofs, the lack of doing anything in terms of preventive maintenance, has taken its toll on these buildings so now the problem has become structural. It’s no longer cosmetic-type fixes. It’s structural, and it’s expensive.”

Parkview is most noted for its redevelopment of the Hofmann building, "one of their large, very visible projects they completed as developers," Shafer said.

The council will also receive a report from Little regarding River Hills Community Health Center.

The council will meet at 6:30 p.m. tonight in council chambers at City Hall. The meeting will air live on GO-TV, cable channel 6.