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The entrances to the building at 116 S. Market St./203 E. Main St. both have notices from the city forbidding the structure’s occupation until it is brought in line with city code. A contract up for discussion next week could lay a path for rehabilitation.

OTTUMWA — A highly visible spot downtown is getting a new owner and, perhaps, a new chance to play a role in Ottumwa’s economy.

The building at 203 E. Main St./116 S. Market St., has been empty for years, with paper covering most of the windows. The few places where there isn’t something blocking the view shows an interior long neglected, with debris littering the space.

It wasn’t always that way. The Market Street side was once home to Bubba-Q and, before that, a Subway sandwich store. The Main Street entrance was last the office of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 caucus campaign, but was the home of The Photo Shop for years before that.

The city acquired the property this past summer. Documents provided for next week’s council meeting show courts granted the city the property title on Aug. 8, and formal possession came Aug. 26.

Now, the city is preparing to hand over the property to Kelly Reed Real Estate, LLC, for renovations. The company will purchase the site for $27,000 and must begin the work quickly.

Terms of the contract require the building to be secured against animals and weather within 20 days. It also requires the company to “immediately begin cleaning our the property and transporting any debris, trash and miscellaneous items that will not be personally kept,” to the landfill.

Full renovations must be complete within three years.

Those elements are similar to an agreement the city struck earlier this year for rehabilitation of 307 E. Main St. The earlier sale required completion within four years, though city officials had specifically mentioned serious water damage near that building’s electrical system. The descriptions in the current discussion indicate dilapidation, but do not mention such serious physical deterioration.

The contract does have a clawback option if the developer fails to complete the required improvements. The clause gives the city the right to take possession of the property and refund the purchase price.

Next week’s council meeting is also expected to set the dog license fees for the upcoming year. The proposed rates are $10 per spayed or neutered adult dog or $20 for each dog that has not been sterilized. Five dollars of each fee will go to Heartland Humane Society, which takes lost or abandoned dogs picked up by the city and had approached the council earlier this year about additional funding.

The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers at City Hall.

Matt Milner can be reached at mmilner@ottumwacourier.com and followed on Twitter @mwmilner

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Managing Editor

Matt Milner currently serves as the Courier's Managing Editor. Milner is a trained weather spotter and is usually outside if there are storms. He joined the Courier in 2002.

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