Because we believe its vibrancy is vital to our community, we frequently use this space to champion downtown. Based on progress achieved in recent years and plans for the future, we have said we believe the best days for downtown lie ahead.
Several projects under way or under discussion this year only boost our enthusiasm.
Those projects include:
- Transformation by a Sioux Falls, South Dakota, developer of the 110-year-old former Bekins Moving and Storage Co. warehouse at the corner of Wesley Parkway and West Fourth Street into an apartment complex with between 70 and 75 units.
- Redevelopment to residential and commercial use by Ho-Chunk Inc. of three former industrial buildings in the 100 block of Virginia Street and construction by Ho-Chunk of a new building for similar uses on the nearby site of a demolished building for a project called Virginia Square.
- Planned construction of a five-story, 150-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel and parking ramp next to the city's downtown Convention Center.
- A planned $56 million renovation announced by local businessman Lew Weinberg last month of the former Warrior Hotel building and Davidson Building in the 500 block of Sixth Street into a combination hotel and residential/commercial/retail complex.
Along with an agriculture/recreation center at the former site of the John Morrell plant in the old stockyards area, the latter three projects were included in the city's bid for $13.9 million from the state's Reinvestment District Program. Earlier this month, the Iowa Economic Development Authority Board awarded the city $13.5 million.
In a meeting with our editorial board on Thursday, Mayor Bob Scott said it's conceivable work will begin on the hotel next to the Convention Center and the Warrior/Davidson project this year.
Each of the projects we listed above will, we believe, revitalize and generate ancillary growth for key pieces of downtown. In our view, the Warrior/Davidson project alone will produce the level of transformative change spawned by construction of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
With support and optimism for the future, we again today praise our public and private sectors for commitment to and investment in downtown. Through expansion of cultural amenities, entertainment choices, and urban-living options, and creation of green spaces, today’s downtown is a dynamic place of renaissance. In significant ways, these new projects will boost downtown momentum as the vision of downtown as a thriving destination for residents and visitors alike continues to unfold.