Downtown building owner applies for TIF grant

A downtown building is slated to get major renovations that could be funded by grant money if the city approves the effort to help restore it.

Doug Husak, volunteer chair for the code upgrade and facade improvement program, outlining the grant’s specifications to the Marshalltown City Council Monday night. The renovation will improve fire suppression and overall aesthetic at 119 E. Main St.

The renovation calls for installation of a sprinkler system throughout the two-story building as well as the addition of a garage. Electric and plumbing work also needs to be done to bring the building up to code before the buyer, Dan Kester, of Marshalltown, would be able to move his family into the upstairs, which following the renovation would be a livable apartment.

The grant application also details what that committee views as “luxury items,” i.e., a fireplace and air conditioning not required to meet city code.

Kester said he wanted his family to be able to live downtown, but one of the hurdles in doing that is renovating buildings like his so that they meet the fire code. Although Kester, 46, said he hadn’t planned on making the move just yet, an opportunity presented itself, so he took it.

“It’s got a great view of the courthouse, a great view of Main Street We are kind of looking for our next project,” he said. “Something different.”

Kester works for the Marshalltown Company and owns Cross County Estates, a land developer.

A 2012 assessment values the property at $86,540.

The lower level would remain retail space, which is occupied by Stucky’s Vacuum Store.

The maximum amount of money available for the grant is $20,000, according to documents presented to the council. Normally, the grant is 25 percent not to exceed $20,000. Code upgrades and interior renovations will cost $230,000.

According to the application checklist, the City Building Inspector has yet to review the plan.

Although the application submitted is only for code upgrades, Husak said should the owner decide to upgrade the building’s front, he would qualify for a facade grant as well.

“To have someone come in and spend this kind of money to upgrade it we feel they are very deserving of such a grant,” Husak said.

Bethany Wirin, at-large council member, said the project sounds great.

Tax Increment Finance (TIF) dollars fund the grant program.