The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

February 8, 2013

Historic designation sought for Wilson Building

By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Sports Writer

CLINTON — The Cedar Rapids investment group securing the Wilson Building for market-rate housing is in the midst of adding the building to the National Register of Historic Places to obtain funding for the development.  

According to Mary Ottoson, historic preservation incentive specialist with Frantz-Hobart, the Wilson Building, 217 Fifth Ave. South, presents a new challenge for the company.

The other buildings the company has developed in places like Monmouth and Dubuque were in historic districts.  

“This building is unique in that we are trying to add it individually,” Ottoson said.

The key to developing older buildings such as Clinton’s six-story landmark is obtaining state and federal historic tax credits, she said.

These are only available to buildings that are on the National Register or belong in a registered historic district.  The process to get a building deemed worthy of preservation by the national organization is a comprehensive one involving a myriad of information on the building’s history.

Ottoson will need to present detailed documents from the first construction of the building, historic photographs and plans as well as information about the architects and renovations that have taken place up to the 1970s.To do this she plans to use public sources such as the Clinton County Historical Society and the Clinton Public Library. The process could take up to 30 months, but Ottoson said it won’t hinder the development.  

Plans for the Wilson Building presented by partner Jim Hobart involved transforming the building into 30 high-end apartments with retail space on the lower level at an industrious pace.  The team plans to close on the property by March 15 and have the first tenants moving in by the end of the year.  

While the historic designation is necessary to receive the tax credits and the tax credits are essential to the $7.45 million project, the company can still continue even if it has not yet received the designation, Ottoson said. In the next two weeks the company will have started the process of applying for the tax credits.

Frantz-Hobart and city officials are also hammering out a development deal for the property.  According to Mayor Mark Vulich, the details of that deal should emerge at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday.    

So far, Ottoson said, everything is still proceeding as planned.   

“We’re still very aggressive,” she said. “This will not affect construction. It’s not holding anything back.”