McGregor pursuing grant to give opera house rehab a boost

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The city of McGregor is hoping to earn a grant through the state’s Community Catalyst Building Remediation Program, to help with rehabilitation of the Sullivan Opera House. (NIT file photo)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

The city of McGregor has been invited to submit an application for a grant through the state’s Community Catalyst Building Remediation Program. Duane Boelman, McGregor’s deputy clerk and economic development lead, said the city’s application will seek funds for the Sullivan Opera House.

The Community Catalyst Program, which provides grants up to $100,000, assists communities with the redevelopment, rehabilitation or deconstruction of buildings to stimulate economic growth or reinvestment in the community. In order to proceed with the official grant application, the city first had to have its pre-application approved.

Boelman said a developer is interested in rehabilitating the building, which dates back to 1877. Timothy J. (T.J.) Sullivan purchased the building in 1905 and, feeling there was a need for an opera house in the community, quickly remodeled the second floor to become the Sullivan Opera House. 

Several years ago, the city of McGregor took over ownership of the building, which had sat empty and fallen into disrepair over the past 20 years, after housing a hardware store on the lower level and apartments upstairs.

Rehabilitation would be completed in two years, strictly following the historic preservation standards set by the Secretary of the Interior, said Boelman. The McGregor Historic Preservation Commission could help oversee and document the process.

Boelman said the large space would include six upstairs apartments.

“They would be a little upscale,” he noted, speaking to the McGregor Council at its Feb. 21 meeting.

The downstairs would also be divided up, with the front three portions serving as retail space. The back section closest to the next-door McGregor Historical Museum would be reserved for an expansion of the museum, he said. The other two back portions could either be additional residential units or office space.

As he prepares to submit the application, Boelman said he was seeking some feedback from the city on some incentives they might offer for the project, most notably gifting the building to the developer for a minimal amount.

The building is valued at $100,000 now, he said, “but for a project that’s going to be over $1 million, I think the developer needs this to make it happen.”

The council did not have to officially vote on the request, but members unanimously said they would be in favor of doing so at some point.

“It’s called a community catalyst because they want it to jumpstart other projects in town,” Boelman said. “I think, if we get this looking nice, it would really help.”

Pedestrian bridge engineering firm selected

The council accepted a bid from HR Green Engineering to develop plans for replacing the pedestrian bridge that spanned across B Street, connecting Second Street with Point Ann Lane. The bridge was torn down in September after being damaged beyond repair by the July 19 tornado. 

Council meeting date changed

The council’s regular March meeting will be moved to Monday, March 12, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will include a public hearing for the 2018-2019 city budget.

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