City takes next step in downtown rehab efforts



FORT MADISON – Agreements continue to be processed to move the plans forward to finally begin renovations of three historic buildings in Fort Madison’s Main Street district.

During next week’s Fort Madison City Council meeting, which will be held on Monday rather than Tuesday, the city council will vote, and likely pass, three resolutions that terminate existing agreements with Franz Community Investors of Cedar Rapids, who backed out on the work, taking with them a portion of the $3 million that was earmarked for the projects.

Now, Barker Financial Group of Iowa City has stepped to the plate to finish the work on the Cattermole Library and the old Lee County Bank building.

The Sears building was also in the original plans, but what improvements will be made to that building are still undecided.

The city will function as the funding pass-through for the project, but the Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission will administer the work for the city.

City Administrator David Varley said Friday that the agreements are a formality, but legally extracts the city from any pending agreements between the city and the Franz group.

“This is the legal way to go about ending those agreements,” Varley said. “There was a longer process but we prepared these agreements and the Franz group and the Barkers have signed them along with the city and now we can move forward.”

Varley also said that Barkers had hoped to start construction in May, but he heard this week that the start date will more likely be in early June.

“Last I heard, they’re probably not gonna get going until June. They were planning in May, but this probably won’t happen til June as they pull all the subcontractors together,” he said.

Other items on the agenda include:

  • a resolution setting a public hearing and ordering construction for the Blackhawk Heights sewer improvements.
  • a public hearing for May 16 is part of the consent agenda for budget amendments for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

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