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New owners seek bright future for Laramar Ballroom

City Council provides money to help with renovation expenses

For 118 years, the building that we know today as the Laramar Ballroom has stood at 710 First Ave. N. It opened in 1904 as a National Guard armory. Decades later, the soldiers moved to a different location and the site became an entertainment venue.

Buddy Holly and J.P. Richardson, also known as The Big Bopper, took the stage there for one of their final concerts. There were many other dances, gatherings and even mixed martial arts fights there in the following years.

Recently, the Laramar Ballroom has been closed and empty. Some local investors are working to change that.

Chris O’Brien, Brady O’Brien and Joe Tuel established the Laramar Acquisition Co. LLC and purchased the building last June. They plan to renovate the ballroom and reopen it by next fall.

We are impressed by their vision for the future of this landmark. On behalf of the community, we thank them for taking on this challenge.

As you might expect, fixing up the Laramar Ballroom is not going to be cheap. Fortunately, the new owners have received some help from their state and city governments.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority awarded the owners a $100,000 Community Catalyst and Remediation Grant.

Some matching funds were required for that grant. The City Council provided those matching funds, by voting on Sept. 12 to commit $10,000. That money will come from the city’s economic development revolving fund.

The council approved that money on a unanimous vote with no discussion. That shows how obviously important the Laramar Ballroom is to downtown and by extension the rest of the community.

We thank the City Council and the state officials for providing needed money for this project.

We also look forward to seeing what the new owners will accomplish as they bring this landmark back to life.

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