By BILL SHEA
A developer still plans to convert the former Sears building in downtown Fort Dodge into apartments for senior citizens.
Jim Danaher, president of CBC Financial in Fairfield, said Tuesday that the remodeling work will start as soon as the financing is all in order. He added that the work will take a year to complete.
The Fort Dodge Board of Adjustment on Tuesday gave its approval to an element of the remodeling job when it voted to allow the use of some precast concrete on the building at 610 Central Ave.
The precast concrete will enclose a fire escape on the building.
The downtown zoning and design guidelines limit the use of concrete on buildings, according to Angela Torres, the associate city planner. Brick is the preferred building material, she said.
Torres said the developer feels using brick to enclose the fire escape would be cost-prohibitive. She recommended that the board approve the use of precast concrete, but added ''It's not an easy recommendation.''
The board voted unanimously to approve the use of precast concrete.
The remodeling job would create 49 one- and two-bedroom apartments in the building. The project, announced in January, is estimated to cost $9.6 million.
In January, the City Council endorsed the developer's bid for tax credits from the Iowa Finance Authority. It also awarded a property tax abatement estimated in value at $156,019 over 10 years.
The building was constructed in 1916 to house Prusia Hardware. It is now vacant.
In other business Tuesday, the board approved a variance to allow the construction of a deck on the rear of a house at 1127 S. 24th St. The board agenda listed Councilman Don Wilson as the owner of the property, but he told board members that he was representing his son.
An 8-by-10-foot deck is proposed.
In that residential district, buildings must be at least 20 feet from the rear property line. However, the proposed deck would be about 3 feet from that line.
Torres said the lot the house sits on is only half the size of a typical residential lot.
The board approved the variance for the deck.