The development of Dyersville’s downtown district took a substantial step April 6 when the city received a $100,000 “catalyst” grant from the state.
The grant will be used as part of a $620,000 renovation project that will turn a historic building into a brewery and event space.
“We’re very excited about it,” said Jacque Rahe, executive director of the Dyersville Economic Development Corp. “The hope is to bring more activity downtown, more people downtown, and having additional public spaces, especially outdoors, where people can gather. That’s the whole riverfront development concept. We looked at some of the buildings in that area and this one was so well-suited for rehab. That was about the time this new grant came along. It was kind of perfect timing.”
The grant was one of 18 Community Catalyst Building Remediation Grants awarded by the Iowa Economic Development Authority. More than 50 communities had applied for funding.
“Getting the grant is a sign you’ve got a good plan, you sold it well,” said Dyersville Mayor Jim Heavens. “It’s going to be a good place to gather in Dyersville. I’m looking forward to it.”
The Dyersville grant will help rehabilitate the building at 146 Second St. NE into the Textile Brewing Company. It was previously the site of Sewing Contractors and is owned by Mike English, a member of the Dyersville City Council.
Dyersville has been in the process of a needs assessment for the downtown area, led by RDG Planning and Design. The primary discussion has revolved around riverfront investments, including a river walk, an outdoor band shell, and an office and residential complex.
“The development will kind of happen in tandem,” Rahe said of the brewery and riverfront projects. “The two projects will complement each other very, very well. The project behind the brewery will involve clearing out underutilized buildings that have seen the end of their useful life and preparing the property for this larger mixed-use facility. It would clean up a lot of the riverbank as opposed to having that area be somewhat of an eyesore.”
Rahe said a new building will house office space and, hopefully, residential space.
“We do have a potential anchor that we’re working with for the office complex,” Rahe said. “Then, in line with the housing needs study, some lofts or condos, some sort of residential, would be added to this building.
“We’re a little further along with the brewery now because we have that grant, and it’s a little smaller project. The brewery, we feel strongly, will spark additional investment in downtown for the current building owners and some new businesses. The office building, when that occurs, will bring that critical mass downtown. We’re talking about 70 people in an office complex. Seventy new people coming downtown every day is huge for our community.”
The plan is for the city to renovate the building, then sell it to an investment group led by Tom and Carol Olberding, of Dyersville. The city will use the grant money for things like make the building handicap accessible and renovate the front entry. Rahe said a contractor has worked closely with the project, but nothing has been formalized. The work will begin after the contract to exercise the city’s option to buy the property is completed. Work would potentially be completed by 2019.
Heavens said he is pleased that Dyersville is renovating buildings rather than razing them.
“A lot of little towns don’t know what to do with obsolete buildings,” he said. “For us to have an older building and not have to tear it down, instead turn it into something we can use and something we need, that’s a home run.”