OTTUMWA — For a long time, anybody traveling south along Highway 63 would get a glimpse of a pair of dilapidated buildings at the northwestern edge of downtown Ottumwa.
“It’s been like that for 50 years,” said Jim Clingman, broker at Bridge City Realty. “I’ve just felt like it gave such a bad impression of the business district.”
So, a few months ago, Bridge City Realty purchased both and started renovating the entire corner, at the intersection of West Fourth and North Marion streets. Clingman wanted to relocate the Bridge City Realty office to that location while beautifying one of the most frequently seen parts of town.
They began by demolishing the building that bordered West Fourth Street. Then they turned their attention to the one at 209 N. Marion St. A former rental property, the house had a leaky roof, no central air and wasn’t energy efficient.
“It just needed everything,” Clingman said.
While they could have demolished that building as well, Clingman thought it was important to preserve some of the town’s history. So they set to work remodeling it and making it suitable to the company’s needs.
First the building was gutted and the bottom floor was opened up. Then new windows, central air, wiring and plumbing were installed. A new roof was just completed, and a screened-in porch was enclosed to give the bottom floor more square footage.
The bottom floor will be used as Bridge City Realty’s new office, with a new conference room, reception area, space for agents to work, new offices and room for more expansion. The second floor will be turned into a two-bedroom apartment.
Once all that is finished, a large wraparound porch will be installed, changing the building’s front so it faces Fourth Street. The lot where the other building used to stand will be used for parking and connected with the Walgreens parking lot to improve parking for both businesses.
With a laugh Clingman said he’d received a number of calls and emails thanking him for improving the corner. Although that was part of his decision, he also wanted Bridge City Realty to be a part of Ottumwa’s resurgent downtown. The office will not only be in proximity to the company’s attorneys and the courthouse, but be in a more central, convenient location for their clients.