Buildings that need the most renovation

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Ottumwa Courier staff writer

OTTUMWA — In less than two weeks, four addresses have changed owners in a single block. The hope is to continue to improve downtown Ottumwa. Sean Flattery, CEO of Rippling Waters Property Development is behind the East Main Street shopping spree: But this isn’t a get rich quick scheme. Rippling Waters is connected to the nonprofit Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation.

"Our goal is restoring the value of these buildings to the community," he said.

The Wapello County Recorder’s Office shows the purchase of the former Scooter’s Bar, more recently known as Snobby’s. Most recently, it had been sitting empty. Rippling Waters bought two addresses around Scooter’s giving them 301, 303 and 305 East Main St.; the courthouse listed the package as costing around $135,000.

They just bought 315 E. Main St. as well; it’s been empty for some time. The white brick and purple trimmed building once held a sports bar.

"We’ve also acquired 317 next door, the Mc-Carroll Brothers building, which had been a hardware store," said Flattery.

Until it closed several years ago, it had served as an adult theater. While those five buildings sat empty, buildings around them progressed, taking advantage of grants and financial assistance to renovate their businesses. Facades have been improved along most of the street. Flattery said it was time to get a few more structures up to par.

"We tend to be buying the ones in the worst shape," Flattery said. "Most at [this time] are in the 300 block, which is really turning around and is a key driver to downtown."

Businesses, including a boutique and an employment office, have relocated there. New shops have opened. Those were in pretty good locations.

"Some buildings are not in a condition that an investor would feel they can reasonably make a [project pay off] after they spend to renovate a place," said Flattery.

So on a recent purchase begun months ago, Rippling Waters made sure an old roof was replaced.

"We want the building to be water tight and safe; our goal is to put in what it ! needs to be up to code," he said.

For example, they check the electrical system. But for a recent property, there will be extra testing: "I called the water company, and they tell me one of the buildings hasn’t had the water on since 2008."

Their mission statement says they’ll strategically buy, responsibly manage and effectively "deploy" real estate back onto the market. For economic development, the developer and their partners then work on recruiting new businesses or seeing that existing business can expand or stay in the area.

Plans for the five purchases are not set in stone. But one discussion seems to be progressing for a destination that could draw some traffic.

"We’ve been talking to the group that runs ! the old school pinball arcade," said Flattery.


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