Developer hopes to begin construction at Tama Building site by Spring 2020

BURLINGTON, Iowa - Construction on new apartments and retail spaces could begin at the corner of Jefferson and Third Streets in Downtown Burlington in Spring of the year 2020.

The debris left behind after the historic Tama Building caught fire last year has been cleaned up and the developer, Doug Wells, is ready to move forward with something new.

He stood before the city council during a work session on August 26 to discuss a new, more simple one-phase construction plan.

"There were concerns with the city about doing two phases," said Wells.

The concerns had to do with how and when the second phase would be implemented, he said.

Now, the new plan would bring 22 apartments and two retail spaces to the site.

"I just have a lot of renewed energy toward the project," said Wells.

The project would cost about $4.1 Million Dollars. That's about a third of what it would have cost to re-develop the original Tama building.

Several members of the city council, Wells, and some community members all agree that the new challenge is keeping the history of the site alive.

"Were inserting a new building in this environment and we want it to really mend well with its surroundings," said Wells.

With a less complicated plan now on the table for what will happen at the Tama site, a local business owner says she is excited that progress will be made.

"I have been around construction most of the time that I have been downtown here with that building," said Doreen Roy.

Roy owns Red Screen Door Home Accessories and Gypsy on Jefferson Boutique. Both businesses are next to the Tama Building site.

The road in front of her businesses was closed for months after the Tama Building caught fire last August, making it hard for her to attract customers.

"I am excited to see a building go up," said Roy. "I do want it to go up quickly, I want them to stay close to their timeline, and to get the building up and to get it going," she said.

Something the developer said he completely respects.

"They've been though a lot with us," said Wells. " We want to do everything we can to have them like the new building."

If construction begins in Spring 2020, Wells said it would take about 10-12 months to complete.

The next step in this process is to secure funding.

Wells said he has submitted an application for a Community Block Development Grant.

The city council is reviewing the grant application. If the council approves the application at their Sept. 9th meeting, they will forward it to the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

Wells is also working with several different stakeholders to help determine if, and how, he should incorporate salvaged pieces of the old Tama building into his new building.

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