Both Main Street Centerville and Main Street Ottumwa were among 14 communities to secure grant money from the Iowa Economic Development Authority for projects as part of the Main Street Iowa Challenge.

Centerville earned a grant of $32,000 for its "Good News, Read All About It" project, which will replace a wooden shingle awning on the former Daily Iowegian building, returning the facade to its historical look.

Ottumwa secured $75,000 from the IEDA that will go toward rehabilitation of the old Iowa Southern Utilities building. Both projects have two years to be completed.

"One of our problems had been not having the space suitable for businesses," Main Street Ottumwa Executive Director Fred Zesiger said. "We're wanting to develop some of these downtown properties, and I think we'll see more interest in businesses down here."

Zesiger couldn't say for sure when the ISU building was created, but said it had been remodeled in 1929. The building has been vacant for some time, but the goal is to have both a business on the basement level and first floor, and some possible apartments on the second floor.

RG Construction of Ottumwa is handling the repairs, which won't begin until at least Oct. 20. There will be some reconstruction involved, but also some stabilization in the rear of the building.

With the grant money, plus the local match, the project will cost just under $234,000.

"Rod (Grooms) has the plans and the financing in place," Zesiger said. "So there can be a quick turnaround."

In Centerville, the project is to help provide natural light to the Iowegian building. The building is over 100 years old, and is one of 121 buildings in Centerville on the National Register of Historic Places.

The first floor of the building is divided into offices with a large lobby, and the second floor has six apartments of varying sizes, but both floors check in at 4,000 square feet.

"This was a great opportunity to do that work. It's an iconic building that has made a huge impact here," Main Street Centerville Executive Director Mary Wells said. "This will make a significant impact on the ability to market the corner building to a potential renter."

Main Street Centerville will partner with Jeff Burns to renovate the building. Burns owns the building, and is one of the owners of George and Nick's Pizza and Steakhouse.

In addition to the grant money, there is also a $32,000 local match for the $64,000 project.

— Chad Drury can be reached at, and on Twitter @ChadDrury


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