Main Street Ottumwa

Monday, March 28, 2016

Main Street Ottumwa strives to make the city of Ottumwa the southeast Iowa hub for arts, entertainment, commerce, residential, and employment opportunities. Their mission is to improve the social and economic well-being of their district by capitalizing on the unique identity, assets and character of its downtown area using the comprehensive Main Street Four Point Approach®.

The Four Point Approach involves Organization (volunteer management, marketing, and fundraising), Design (downtown beauty and historic preservation), Promotions (marketing and events), and Business Improvement (help businesses learn, market, and grow). With this approach, community pride will be evident in the restored buildings filled with restaurants, retail and specialty shops.

Business and building owners will be involved in retaining and attracting new businesses and professionals to the city center. Downtown will welcome new and returning Iowans and be home to more people who choose to stay or return to the community. Downtown’s connection to the riverfront and Bridge View Center will make it an exciting destination for entertainment, dining, shopping and meeting friends.

Work underway on Ottumwa Upper Story Project


Courier staff writer

OTTUMWA — “Downtown Ottumwa did not get to the state it is now overnight, and it will take more than a short amount of time to bring it back to what it once was,” said Fred Zesiger, executive director at Main Street Ottumwa.

Construction on multiple units of a 22-unit project began on Oct. 27 as part of the Ottumwa Upper Story Project.

Iowa Economic Development Authority awarded a Community Development Block Grant totaling $3,284,172 for the project.

Twenty-two housing units of both low- to moderate income housing and market rate housing will be created six locations throughout the downtown corridor.

Ottumwa was one of 10 communities with populations lower than 50,000 that were awarded CDBG funds. The CDBG program is funded through the U.S.

Department of Housing and Urban Development, and these federally funded awards allow communities to recover housing lost during the national disaster events of 2008. Also, the grants are awarded based on the potential impact of the project, the benefit to low- and moderate-income residents and the timeliness of the project. Fifty-one percent of the apartments are required to be in the low- to moderate-income range.

“We are hoping to have some of the units listed online as early as the spring,” said Zesiger. “The single one-bedroom apartments are perfect for young Ottumwans who are looking for affordable housing with perks that downtown living provides.” Zesiger said the ideal “low to moderate income” resident they seek is someone who makes approximately 30-35K per year.

There are 13 two bedroom units and nine one bedroom units spread throughout the the downtown area. Zesiger said it would be around $650 for a one bedroom apartment (utilities included) and $850 for a two bedroom.

Two million of this four million dollar investment is part of the storm water mitigation fund.

“Many of the buildings are already undergoing construction,” said Zesiger. “We’re also really excited because on the 300 block, we will be installing ‘green’ roofs.”

Curtis Architect and Design is taking on the project and Christner Contracting is the general contractor.

Twenty-five other subcontractors are working on the project.

“We’re even keeping the construction local — this means more jobs for local workers and more revenue for our area,” said Zesiger.

As for the project, the 22 units need to be completed by the end of December 2016, but MSO has a goal to complete it by the end of October 2016.

Zesiger thinks there is a certain charm about living downtown, that can’t be matched. “The character is so unique in these buildings, with huge windows and high ceilings, it can’t be beat,” said Zesiger. “You can’t find it anywhere else in the area.”

For more information about the project, contact Main Street Ottumwa at 641-799-3464.

Main Street website:

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Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation 217 East Main Street Ottumwa, Iowa  52501
Phone 641-682-3465 Fax 641-682-3466