Maquoketa receives $500,000 grant from Iowa Economic Development Authority for downtown upper story housing project

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MAQUOKETA, Iowa (KWQC) - Maquoketa has received a $500,000 grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority for a downtown upper story housing project. The city and the building's owner have put additional funds bringing the total investment to around $900,000. The grant is part of the states pilot program focused on upper story housing projects in downtown's throughout Iowa.
Bob Osterhause owns the building that received the grant. He has lived in Maquoketa since 1965 and says the city is going through a boom.
"A lot of changes and I'd like to think we've started a renaissance," says Osterhaus.
Bob says in many ways Maquoketa is rising from the ashes. "1960s bankruptcy of Clinton engines, then we had the farm crisis of the 1980s which certainly hurt the community," says Osterhaus. "We had this fire and we had this scar here for several years and now it's a green space," he added.
Recently, there was a major investment in the downstairs floor of his building which now serves as Maquoketa's art experience and the chamber of commerce.
"Concerts, recitals, projects, dance programs, there are a number of people in the community that are interested in supporting the art experience," says Osterhaus.
And both the Bob and city hope this grant and investment will draw residents to the area and help revitalize the downtown.
"Hopefully there's going to be a way to sustain the art experience with the revenues from the apartments above," says Osterhaus.
Dave Heiar of the Jackson County Economic Development Office says he believes the fact that Maquoketa has been investing so heavily in the city made it more attractive to the state as an investment. "We've done the infrastructure and we have a facade program that is going to be rolling out here shortly and the upper story was the neglected part and this fit nicely into making it all work," says Heir. For the past few months the Jackson County Economic Alliance (JCEA), East Central Intergovernmental Association (ECIA), the Maquoketa Chamber of Commerce, 563 Design, and the Maquoketa Art Experience have been working on an application for the Iowa Economic Develepoment Authority's pilot program. And they were successfully awarded this grant for the downtown upper story housing project on Monday, March 11th.
The building owner's current plan for 124 South Main street will include four one bedroom apartments and one two bedroom apartment. And the apartment will include an elevator.
"Having downtown apartments are desirable and utilized and people in the downtown area on Saturdays and Sundays and in the evening seems to be very successful in the communities that have done it DeBuque in particular and Davenport's working on it," says Osterhaus.
And he hopes this grant will elicit a ripple effect in the community.
"Frankly I think it's our duty to re-invest in our community. and when somebody steps forward it's easier for someone else to do it and I've taken the plunge," says Osterhaus with a laugh.
And he says it's for Maquoketa
"It will attract more citizens, you know it's going to increase the value of everybody's home," says Osterhaus.
The city is hoping that other building owners will see the value that this adds to properties as well as see the interest it is adding to the area.