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Fixing facades

Despite delays, restoration of downtown building fronts forges ahead in Fort Dodge

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
The green trim at 1018-1020 Central Ave. was thought to be the result of a paint job. But during a facade upgrade, workers found that the trim was actually green glaze terra cotta. Pictured here is Dungeons and Dodgers, one of two businesses that share the building.

In a section of downtown Fort Dodge, workers have been scrambling over scaffolding for most of the summer and fall, working to restore the facades of several buildings.

While the grandeur of some of those old buildings is beginning to emerge again, the grant-funded project will not be done until sometime next spring. The COVID-19 pandemic is the reason for the delay, according to Kris Patrick, the executive director of Main Street Fort Dodge.

She said the pandemic has delayed the delivery of lumber, windows, doors and even bricks by four to five weeks.

“There’s nothing the general contractor can do about it,” she said.

The general contractor is Cornerstone Commercial Contractors Inc., of Corning. The City Council hired that company in June to do the facade work on multiple downtown buildings at a cost of $867,500.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Scaffolding is seen outside Fireside Lounge, 16 N. 11th St.

The city received a $500,000 grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority to pay much of that cost. The city government is contributing 25 percent of the needed money through tax increment financing, while the owners of the buildings are providing another 25 percent.

Here is a summary of the work on some of the buildings included in the project.

Harty’s Caddy Shack Cafe

The building at Central Avenue and 11th Street that houses the restaurant was the first one crews started working on in July.

It actually has two addresses. The restaurant has an address of 1101 Central Ave., while the rest of the building, which includes eight apartments and the former Captain Hook’s Lounge, has an address of 7 S. 11th St. It was built in 1916, and lettering above the main entrance on the 11th Street side identifies it as the Cadwell Building.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Scaffolding flanks the entrance to Fireside Lounge, 16 N. 11th St. Workers are essentially rebuilding the second and third floors of the building, which have been vacant for about 30 years.

The plan for the building includes improvements to the bricks, new windows and awnings. Bright yellow panels around the entrance to Harty’s Caddy Shack Cafe will be replaced with windows.

The delays in receiving building materials have hampered the work there, according to Patrick.

She said the contractor is awaiting delivery of bricks that will match those on the building’s east wall. She said measurements for the new windows have been taken, but it will be four to five weeks before they are delivered.

Little Joe’s Computers

The computer repair business at the corner of Central Avenue and 10th Street is in a building constructed in 1912 that also has multiple addresses. The computer shop is at 1000 Central Ave. Immediately east of it is 1006 Central Ave., a space once occupied by Sudden Service Cafe and Messerly Electronics. Behind the computer shop to the north is space at 11 N.10th St. that once was the location of JJ’s Downtown Barber Shop.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
The yellow panels around the entrance to Harty’s Caddy Shack Cafe, 1101 Central Ave., will be replaced with windows as part of a downtown facade improvement project paid for in part with a $500,000 grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority. The delivery of the new windows, along with some matching bricks for the building’s east wall, has been delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The work on this building includes improvements to the brick work, replacement of all windows and doors and the removal of paneling at the former barber shop. Workers uncovered glass block windows that will be restored and put back into place.

Fireside Lounge

Workers are essentially rebuilding the second and third floors of this building at 16 N. 11th St. Patrick said those floors have been vacant for 30 years. She said windows and other materials have been ordered for the building, but delivery has been delayed.

Brass Monkey

Patrick said a new door has been installed at this business. The exterior will be repainted, but that work hasn’t started yet, she said.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Plastic covers the front of the building at 1006 Central Ave., and also covers some parts of the facade next door at Little Joe’s Computers, 1000 Central Ave. Both storefronts are getting an upgrade through a downtown facade improvement project expcted to wrap up next spring.

The Brass Monkey is at 15 N. 10th St.

1018-1020 Central Ave.

What was believed to be green paint on part of the building turned out to be green glaze terra cotta, according to Patrick. It will require special cleaning and care.

The building houses Sew Formal and Dungeons and Dodgers.

Mary Kay’s Gifts and Home Decor

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
The green trim at 1018-1020 Central Ave. was thought to be the result of a paint job. But during a facade upgrade, workers found that the trim was actually green glaze terra cotta. Pictured here is Sew Formal, one of two businesses that share the building.

The process of cleaning and repairing bricks, called tuckpointing, had been done previously at this building at 1108 Central Ave.

Awnings and a new door are planned at this location, according to Patrick. But because the holiday season is such a busy time for this store, the work will be postponed until January, she said.

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