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New life coming to vacant downtown FD building

Bakery, apartments planned for 13 N. 11th St.

-Messenger photo by Bill Shea
This building at 13 N. 11th St. in downtown Fort Dodge will be renovated to create two apartments on the second floor and a bakery and another retail space on the first floor. The Iowa Economic Development Authority recently awarded a $75,000 grant for the project.

Future residents of two planned downtown Fort Dodge apartments may find themselves tempted by the aromas coming from a bakery on the floor below them.

That scenario could be unfolding soon at 13 N. 11th St., a building which Tom and Addrea Groff, of Fort Dodge, plan to renovate in a project that’s expected to start Dec. 1 and take about a year to finish.

“We’re going to bring it back to life,” Tom Groff said of the two-story vacant building sometimes called the Fisher Block Annex.

The renovation plan calls for putting Addrea Groff’s home-based business, The Yummy Crumb Bakery, in the larger of two retail spaces on the first floor. The other retail space will be available for lease. The two upstairs apartments will be rehabilitated. Tom Groff said both of those units are “already spoken for” by people who want to rent them.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority recently awarded Main Street Fort Dodge a $75,000 grant to help pay for the project, which has an estimated price tag of $258,670.

-Submitted graphic
This image shows what the facade of 13 N. 11th St. will look like following a renovation job expected to start Dec. 1. The Yummy Crumb Bakery and another business will fill the first floor, while two apartments will be on the second floor.

”The Main Street Iowa challenge grants have been instrumental in revitalizing Iowa’s historic main streets,” said Debi Durham, the director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the Iowa Finance Authority.

“Reinvesting in our traditional commercial districts is good business,” she said in a written statement. “It’s good for our economy and good for our state.”

Tom Groff said he and his wife are “really looking forward to getting started.”

“We think the revitalization of downtown is important for the city,” he said. “We really feel that downtown is the heart of the community. We’re really proud and excited to be part of the revitalization.”

Thanks to their grandparents, the couple has plenty of experience with stores in downtown Fort Dodge. Her grandparents owned Young’s Antiques and Appliances while his grandparents owned Groff Sporting Goods.

Tom Groff said he and his wife wanted to acquire some rental property and find a home for her growing business.

“She’s been getting quite a few orders,” he said.

They zeroed in on 13 N. 11th St. after he got a different view of it while working on the roof of the Beacon of Hope, 1021 First Ave. N. From that vantage point, he looked across North 11th Street and realized that the Fisher Block Annex is actually a separate building from the adjacent structure that faces Central Avenue.

Just how old the building is somewhat open to question. Tom Groff believes it was built in 1902, but he’s seen its completion date listed as 1890 also.