Main Street momentum
Fort Dodge wins Challenge Grant; Historic building will be rehabilitated
A three-story building with a prominent location in the downtown will be revitalized in the coming months.
The historic property, located at 1109 Central Ave., will become home to apartments on the upper floors and a business on the first floor.
Those plans got a boost on Wednesday when Main Street Iowa announced the project as a recipient of a Challenge Grant in the amount of $75,000.
Fort Dodge was one of 13 communities in Iowa to be awarded a Challenge Grant during the Main Street Iowa fall conference held at First United Methodist Church. A total of $1.2 million was awarded to the 13 communities.
“Main Street is absolutely thrilled that the property owners were awarded $75,000,” said Kris Patrick, director of Main Street Fort Dodge. “It’s a dollar-to-dollar match and their project is well over $150,00.”
The estimated cost for the project is $192,500.
Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, presented the check to Patrick. Durham said it was a competitive year for grants.
“It was one of the more competitive round of grants we have ever had,” Durham said.
Durham said the grants can be very impactful for the progress of a downtown.
“The rehabilitation of one building spurs the development of another and so on,” she said.
Patrick has high hopes for this project.
“I really believe this project will be a catalyst,” Patrick said. “These will be market-rate apartments. I see that building reaching its potential.”
The Main Street Iowa Challenge Grant is a grant program provided by Main Street Iowa and the Iowa Economic Development Authority for brick-and-mortar building projects.
Danny Heggen, of HOM Investments 2 LLC, is the property owner and grant recipient.
The property, known as the Hower Block, is located across the street from Daniel Pharmacy. It was built in 1900.
Heggen is happy to be part of building a strong main street in Fort Dodge.
“I want to see Main Street Iowa come back to life,” Heggen said. “I grew up in Rockwell, near Mason City, and then went to middle school and high school in Woodward. Growing up in small towns, I’ve seen that idea of main street. They are so core to our communities. That idea of having people downtown — living and shopping. It’s a sense of community and it’s a front door to a community. Getting in there and investing is key to our growth around the state of Iowa.”
A consignment and gift shop called K.D.’s Over The Moon will be opening in November on the first floor of the building owned by Heggen.
“With this grant we will be moving in to do some further renovations to invest in her and her business and become a great shop for people to visit on Central Avenue,” Heggen said.
Heggen said the upper two stories will be housing. There will be six housing units in total.
“We will be renovating those units and the building,” Heggen said. “We will be putting love back in the building — cleaning up areas of the exterior and other maintenance items around the building. We want it to be a great example of what a property on Central can look like.”
He added, “These are amazing buildings and we need to find properties where we can to work with the city and the state to bring these buildings back to life. People deserve quality housing and we want to provide a place where they can be safe and secure.”
DEV Partners is the firm managing the project.
Heggen also owns a building at 700 Central Ave., where Wicker Jewelers is located. He is planning a similar renovation there sometime in the future.
Fort Dodge was an attractive investment for Heggen.
“I was touring through different properties in Fort Dodge and I’ve seen the amazing amount of work the city has done, driving through Fort Dodge you see new infrastructure,” Heggen said. “As an outside investor, when I see that — I see the city being on board with being a change agent in the community and from there you need the property owners to take responsibilty for what comes next. We want to be involved in bringing about that change.”
The Challenge Grant awarded on Wednesday marked the second such grant Fort Dodge has received in recent years. In 2019, it was awarded a Challenge Grant to rehabilitate a property located at 13 N. 11th St.
Patrick said that project is nearing completion.
She said Addrea Groff will be moving her business, Yummy Crumb Bakery, into the space within a few months.
“That project is closing out now,” Patrick said. “So the timing is perfect to roll one in after the other and we will keep applying for this grant every year.”