OTTUMWA — Council members hope changes to two economic development zones will pave the way for a pair of construction projects.
The first is the long-discussed hotel at Bridge View Center. A hotel has been considered multiple times over the years, and the city has generally been supportive of such a concept. But none of the projects has ever come to fruition.
The city has now partnered with a developer to build a hotel on land covered by a 99-year lease. The incentives to help fund the project required tweaks to the West Gate TIF district.
The former Agassiz Elementary School is the second area under development. Jim Danaher, a developer with whom the city has worked previously, wants to turn the school into 36 apartment units.
When Danaher proposed the project, he said the school’s unique architecture and facade made the site attractive to him. Council members adopted a new Agassiz Urban Renewal Plan for that project.
In both cases the developer is seeking additional tax credits and incentives, so actual work will not begin immediately. But the council approved both plans without dissent.
“It’s nice to see Mr. Danaher back for another project,” Councilman Matt Dalbey said.
Housing has been a particular focus for the city over the past several years. Ottumwa has a lack of housing stock, creating a lack of mobility which officials have said creates a chilling effect on the local real estate market. The lack of housing is also a concern to the city as an economic development issue.
The council also set Halloween as the deadline for proposals for development of 307 E. Main St. The city took the property as abandoned, and it is in immediate need of renovation. There are incentives being offered. The Legacy Foundation has given the city $400,000 for capital projects over four years, and $40,000 of that will be earmarked for use on the site.
While development was a major focus for Tuesday’s session, the council also approved an agreement with Dr. Pepper to resolve an overcharge to the company. Larry Seals, the city’s director of public works, said the city incorrectly assessed the company’s wastewater bill.
“This resulted in Dr. Pepper being overcharged a total of $71,622.16,” he said.
The agreement allows the overcharge to be applied to the company’s upcoming sewer bills.