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OTTUMWA — City officials hoped to find a partner to help save the building at 307 E. Main St. It looks like they may have found one.

On Tuesday, council members are being asked to approve a resolution for a development agreement with R.G. Property, LLC., owned by Rod Grooms. The city acquired the property in July as an abandoned building and, in August, City Attorney Joni Keith said the site was “in dire need of renovation.”

Debris and trash fill the building, which also has roofing issues. Back in August the city hoped incentives and the success of other renovations to create living space in upstairs apartments would help lure a developer.

While a stand-alone building in such condition might face demolition, that was never a good option in this case. The building is sandwiched between two others in the block, and the city would prefer not to create a gap in a block that has seen clear progress in recent years.

The proposed agreement sells the building as is and requires the new owner to secure it against weather and animals within 20 days. That requirement specifically includes the roof. Debris must be removed within 60 days.

Completion of the renovations must take place within four years, though the city retains the ability to offer extensions if needed.

The incentives show up in the contract under city obligations. The developer is required to seek a $10,000 roof grant from the city, a $10,000 “white box” grant (which covers interior work to make a building usable) and a $10,000 facade grant.

Council members will also consider a revision to the contract for new police officers that would commit them to serving at least three years in Ottumwa or reimburse the city for a portion of the officer’s training expenses. Departure within a year would require full reimbursement. The amount of reimbursement decreases over the first three years of the officer’s work, and an officer who leaves after three years owes nothing.

The city began experimenting with contracts that tied time of service to training costs for public safety officials in early 2018.

Tuesday’s 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


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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