Jessica and Austin Wood have been working hard in downtown Clear Lake this year.
The couple, owners of 2 North Fourth Street in downtown Clear Lake, are in the early stages of a rehabilitation project to convert the upper level of their building into apartments.
âWhat Austin and I love is making spaces usable and beautiful for people to enjoy,â Jessica said.
The first stages of the rehabilitation are already underway, with the couple having their application for a Community Development Grant (CDBG-CV) approved by the Clear Lake City Council, followed by the grant amounting to $ 500,000.
The apartment’s restoration project received high praise from members of the Clear Lake City government, with the upper level of the building vacant for more than seven years.
âWe have a great need for housing in our community, and I think it’s a very creative way to address it,â said Bennett Smith, board member. “It’s very exciting.”
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âI think that’s a great use of the COVID-19 money,â Clear Lake Mayor Nelson Crabb said. “This building has been on its own for a long, long time … This money is going to be used for people’s living quarters, which I think is very appropriate.”
The space, to be called the Lake Lofts Apartments, will be converted into a three-unit apartment complex. Both apartments will have two bedrooms and the other will be a one bedroom apartment.
Jessica said one of the three apartments will be used as short-term Airbnb rental space, and the other two, the one bedroom and one of the two bedrooms, will be low-to-moderate income limited-rent rentals. , in accordance with the CDBG grant.
Beginning the rehabilitation process, the family found a few items left in the building which was constructed in 1914. The most notable piece on the upper level is the old electrical fuses, with a piece of paper showing former residents of the buildings. in 1938, including the former Clear Lake office of the Globe Gazette.
âIt would be really cool to get those (fuses) working again,â Jessica said.
The Woods are also exploring the idea of ââadding a functional roof to the building for apartment tenants, but Jessica said it was a âlong-term viewâ to the rest of the project.
Although the $ 500,000 grant has been approved, Jessica said the final cost will be “much higher” than that, around $ 800,000 in total, the difference of which will be funded by the Woods themselves.
âWhen you renovate such an old building, it can get very expensive,â Jessica said. “There is just a lot to do.”
The apartment schedule is still very fluid, according to Jessica, with no completion date set at this time. However, Jessica said the design plans have been finalized and the project will go to tender this winter, hoping to start construction in the spring.
This restoration project is similar to the one undertaken in Mason City on the Federal Plaza.
The Federal Plaza project aims to restore and reallocate the upper-level space at 13-15 South Federal Ave., owned by Melissa Fabian, owner of Simply Nourished Mason City, by transforming it into four apartments. Likewise, Fabian received the same CDBG-CV grant of $ 500,000 for his apartment restoration project.
Even the humblest rehab dreams require money, and Fabian was thinking big.
Earlier in the year, the Woods also restored the building’s lower level, creating a retail space that now houses three businesses.
Charlie’s Soda Fountain, owned and operated by the Woods, White Barn Picket Fence and Nash & Ivy each occupy previously vacant commercial space.
All three businesses opened this year and are part of the Clear Lake Business Incubator Program, which helps businesses in their early years after opening.
“Once the stores open, it will be the first time in a very long time that there won’t be a single vacant storefront on Main Avenue.”
The Wood family were a key contributor to downtown Clear Lake in 2021, which Jessica said has been positive for her and Austin this year.
âI think it’s great fun to be part of the downtown revitalization,â Jessica said. “We just think of what we want in this city, and that’s how we make our decisions.
Zachary Dupont covers politics and business development for the Globe Gazette. You can reach him at 641-421-0533 or [email protected] Follow Zachary on Twitter at @ZachNDupont