Jefferson City Council buys a second downtown building in 'rescue' attempt
111 E Lincoln Way, recently purchased by the City of Jefferson
September 23, 2015
The city of Jefferson will soon become the owner of a second dilapidated downtown building. The city council at its regular meeting Sept. 22 authorized city administrator Mike Palmer and city attorney Bob Schwarzkopf to enter into a purchase agreement on the retail building at 111 E. Lincoln Way, just west of Sally’s Alley.
Palmer reported that the building is “pretty rough.” Housing committee member Lisa Jaskey, who climbed to the roof of the building, reported there’s a hole 12 inches across in the roof and that black mold is “horrendous.”
The owner has agreed to sell the building to the city for $50, with the city paying the current taxes due and the legal fees involved with the sale. Palmer estimates that total to be about $2,000.
There is concern that winter snow would damage the roof enough to cause a collapse.
The city council’s plan is to patch the roof as soon as possible and begin the process of drying out the interior and dealing with the mold. The council saw a sense of urgency. “If we don’t take action, that building’s not long for this world,” council member Harry Ahrenholtz said.
Building inspector Nick Sorensen reminded the council of Jefferson’s status as one of only a few cities in Iowa with all four sides of a downtown or courthouse square intact. “We’ve used that in grant applications. If we lose that building, we won’t have that advantage in the grant process,” he said.
Palmer said after the meeting that the city will pay for a new roof in the spring at an estimated cost of $25,000 to $30,000, but aside from dealing with the mold problem, there is no plan for interior work.
The city will then attempt to sell the building. “There have been some buyers interested, but they get nervous because of the roof,” he said. The city would recoup the price of the roof when it sells the building, Palmer said.
The city council during the summer was given the building at 205 N. Wilson and $5,000 for repair. Jefferson Matters: Main Street has now applied for a $75,000 Challenge grant to do needed work on the building. The city is providing a $75,000 match for that grant. It is the city’s intention to sell that building eventually as well.
In somewhat related business, Jefferson Matters: Main Street program coordinator reported that 22 building owners are interested in participating in, or getting more information about, the Community Development Block Grant process for rehabilitating storefronts in the Main Street district.
The city council is moving forward in preparing a CDBG application and Palmer already put out a request for qualifications for architects interested in the project. A committee comprised of council members, Jefferson Matters board members, and city officials will interview five potential architects and select one in early October. The architect will meet with property owners and write specifications for the façade rehab projects. The city will pay the architect at the outset, with that cost becoming part of the city’s match to the $250,000 CDBG application.
Also, Jefferson Matters: Main Street will host Ed Bosch of the Iowa Economic Development Authority for an informational presentation about the CDBG process Monday, Oct. 5, at 5:30 pm at the Elks lodge. The program is intended for owners of buildings that could be included in the project.