Tallcorn Towers grand again

Tallcorn Towers tenants will be carried back in time when they see hallways and rooms with numerous features of the original Hotel Tallcorn, built in 1928.

That year marked the Tallcorn as the newest, and most modern hotel in the Eppley Hotel Co. of Omaha chain of 18.

Preserving the Tallcorn’s historical significance has been a priority for CommonBond, the Minneapolis-based company that purchased the building in 2012 from B.O. and Barbara Bryngelson of Marshalltown and invested $11 million in its renovation.

CommonBond converted 65 efficiency and one bedroom apartments into 42 one-bedroom and seven two-bedroom apartments for primarily low-income residents, with several at market rate prices.

Central to financing the project were state and federal historic preservation tax credits available for such projects.

However, to be awarded historic preservation tax credits, CommonBond pledged to remodel the building in accordance with historic preservation guidelines.

Federal requirements required investigation on site prior to construction to determine if historical significant artifacts existed.

Visible are the original tile floor and some doors, installed years ago when the building was a shining star in the Eppley Hotel chain.

But modern conveniences dominate, with each apartment having its own heating and cooling unit, new kitchen cabinets and modern bathroom fixtures.

Additionally, the building features a computer lab, laundry room and an arts and crafts facility.

Preservation guidelines applied to exterior improvements, including windows, and the stately ballroom-banquet room on the ground floor.

Except for normal wear and tear and some water damage to plaster, that room had been relatively untouched despite several building owners and various remodeling projects.

That included a major renovation in 1961, when many of the original walls and finishes on the ground floor were removed, according to KB Architecture of Des Moines and Minneapolis.

Cynthia Lee, associate vice-president of housing and development for CommonBond, identified 11 other resources, ranging from a Wells Fargo construction loan to the Iowa Finance Authority to numerous local organizations, including MEDIC and the Martha Ellen Tye Foundation.

“We are extremely grateful for the financial support received from the state of Iowa, Marshall County and Marshalltown resources,” said Lee. “We also appreciated the support from Marshalltown’s Main Street program. They were behind us from the beginning.”

Michelle Spohnheimer, Marshalltown’s director of housing and community development, said the county and local investments were proof community stakeholders, and not just county and city government, supported the project.

The investments proved to be beneficial for all, as the Tallcorn renovation is a key piece of the city’s efforts to redevelop the east side of downtown.

The Tallcorn, in tandem with the Orpheum Theater’s extensive remodel several years ago, now leaves the Iowa Wholesale building and perhaps the Kibbey building as final pieces of the puzzle for the east side.

“From the city perspective, the Tallcorn was a critical project,” said Spohnheimer, “It is part of a comprehensive approach to housing and encouraging self sufficiency.”

Two grand openings will be held at the Tallcorn on Tuesday.

The public is invited to attend from 12 to 2 p.m. and a second one for project funders is from 4 to 6 p.m.

Tours will be conducted by CommonBond staff at each.

“We thought it important to hold a separate grand opening for the numerous agencies and organizations who made the Tallcorn project possible,” said Cynthia Lee, associate vice president for housing and community development.