OTTUMWA — The second and third floors of downtown buildings have seen a lot of change in the past year, and now it's time for the public to see the progress being made.
The fifth annual Upstairs/Downtown event will be held on May 18 at five downtown locations: 228 E. Second St., 113 E. Main St., 221 E. Main St., 307 E. Main St. and 332 E. Main St.
Three of the buildings carried over from the event last year: 228 E. Second St. (Shape Up Ottumwa), 221 E. Main St. (rehabilitated upstairs apartments) and 332 E. Main St. (apartments above Appanoose Rapids Brewing Company).
"Last year they were all in progress," said Main Street Ottumwa board president Fred Zesiger. "All three are pretty much finished now."
The two newcomers to the tour — 113 and 307 E. Main St. — contain the Lead Ottumwa Leadership Academy's new space and a "raw space," respectively.
The raw space was previously Iowa Southern Utilities Company with two apartments above, though it sits empty now.
"We don't really have any plans, but we're opening it up for people to see the possibilities of what could be there," Zesiger said.
The event shows the public a mix of spaces at varying stages of rehabilitation so they can see the progress being made downtown, he said. The idea for Upstairs/Downtown brewed five years ago when MSO was working on several projects downtown that it wanted the public to see.
"We wanted people to see that there is stuff going on downtown and it continues to go on," Zesiger said. "There's a lot going on, and a lot of those spaces upstairs people haven't seen — ever. They've been shut up for 50 years, so we're trying to get those upper floors occupied again. It's a process, but certainly if you own a property, you might as well be making revenue off the whole thing rather than just one part of it."