BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The owners of the old Lee County Bank and Cattermole Library got good news two weeks ago that windows have been approved for the building and will be ordered this week.
The windows, which are now boarded up on the building, were a sticking point as several submitted designs were rejected, according to Barker Financial Inc.’s CFO Kyle Galloway.
Galloway said he was informed a couple weeks ago the most recent submission of window design was approved by the National Parks Service, which is charged with overseeing the historical reconstruction of the building due to tax credits issued to the builder by the federal government.
The delay in getting the windows approved caused some concern in the ability to use the tax credits due to timelines on the project, but Galloway said the project has been given a 12-month extension on the credits.
“There was a point in time on this project when time became an issue, but we were able to get a 12-month extension for the tax credits so we’re good for any sort of funding timeline,” Galloway said Thursday afternoon.
He said the windows will probably take five to 10 weeks to manufacture and then they will be delivered for installation.
“I”m anticipating the 10 weeks so we should have them sometime in March or April and then get them installed. From a lease standpoint we’d like to have them ready in March, but I think April is more realistic. It’s just the windows…they’re the most noticeable part of this type of construction and that’s why they take so long.
He said the original windows were not salvageable and, when buildings using federal historic tax credits, have windows needing to be replaced they have to look exactly like the original windows.
“Those windows have proven to be a bit tricky to get. You have to be exactly to the specs of the National Park Service and the historians sign off on design so that’s taken a while,” he said. “It’s really the only part of this project that hasn’t gone exactly as we had hoped. But every single one I’ve been involved in has been tough with the windows.”
The company is also rehabbing the Cattermole library but said since both buildings are under the same funding mechanisms the projects have to come along together.
“The Cattermole can’t proceed any faster. If it was a separate project it would be done by now. That project has had no surprises at all. We’ve really narrowed our focus to those buildings and the residential aspect of it. Once that’s done, I’ll breathe a lot easier,” Galloway said.
The projects at Cattermole and Lee County Bank will result in upper story residential housing and first floor commercial space. The projects have been in the works for many years, starting with Franz Community Investors who bailed on the project several years ago. Barker picked up ownership of the projects in 2016 and have been working with local contractors since that time to rehab both buildings. The company also purchased the Sears building on Avenue G, but plans for that building are on hold at least until the other two projects are completed.