Two downtown buildings in line for face-lifts

Jake Mosbach/Clinton HeraldThe Jacobsen Building, 246 Fifth Ave. South, and Brown's Shoe Fit Company, 238 Fifth Ave. South, are soon to be the subjects of rehabilitation projects spearheaded by University of Iowa engineering students. The projects are part of the complete Downtown Master Plan, of which a draft will be available for public viewing at 5 p.m. May 21 at Clinton City Hall.

CLINTON — University of Iowa students are spearheading downtown Clinton projects that will upgrade the "structure and facade" of both the Jacobsen Building and the Brown's Shoe Fit Company building, according to Downtown Clinton Alliance Director Karen Rowell.

Rowell reported to the Clinton City Council this week that the group of students has been examining the buildings at 246 Fifth Ave. South and 238 Fifth Ave. South respectively, with the final project plans set to be included in a comprehensive Downtown Master Plan in the coming weeks.

The master plan draft will be available for public viewing at 5 p.m. May 21 at Clinton City Hall, 611 S. Third St. At Tuesday's council meeting, Rowell gave council members a brief overview of the twin projects, and the process involved with the UI engineering students.

"The students were engaged to take (the two buildings) and come up with a plan for structural development of those buildings," Rowell said. "They worked with our architect, and they worked with their internal architect as well."

Rowell said the final master plan, including the concrete details of the Jacobsen and Brown Shoe Fit Company building projects, could be done as soon as July, which is sooner than originally expected.

Getting out in front of the individual projects has been an advantage throughout the process, according to Rowell, as it shows potential developers that she and other stakeholders have plans securely in order.

"This is a great way for us to have different parts of the master plan, so that developers can see what we have to offer," Rowell said. "We do have some developers that are interested. I think it's a great way to showcase Clinton. In discussion with other developers, they like to see that we're thinking ahead instead of thinking behind."

A 54-page report from the UI students is available from Rowell upon request, the director said. The buildings are in good physical condition, including low asbestos presences per the report.

As more details of the master plan become known, Clinton-area residents should be excited about the future of the historic district, Rowell said. Buildings such as the Jacobsen, which was built in 1886, are what make the area special, she has said in the past, and keeping its history alive was one thing that made the project appealing to the engineering students.

"The students were very excited about the project," Rowell said. "They did a great job."

After tackling the Fifth Avenue South block, plans are to shift attention to buildings on South Second Street that are in need of attention, Rowell also told council members. A rehabilitation project already is underway for a building at 512 S. Second St., one which sits between Deb Weise Bookkeeping and Tax and Black Relic Tattoo. The project, aiming to create commercial space on the first floor and residential space on the second, was recently awarded state funding to aid in the efforts.