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Destroyed Building Was in Line for Re-Use

The building destroyed during a weekend fire in downtown Fort Madison was in line to be part of a multi-million dollar redevelopment project.

Frantz-Hobart Management Services (Cedar Rapids) has expressed an interest in acquiring three downtown buildings.

They would be redeveloped for first floor commercial space and more than 40 upper-floor apartments.

One of the buildings being targeted is the historic Metropolitan Hotel, but the three-story brick building at the corner of 6th Street and Avenue G was reduced to a pile of rubble after the fire early Saturday morning.

Two businesses, Cure Solutions and Book Nook were also destroyed.

Crews remained on the scene Tuesday checking for hot spots.  The State Fire Marshall was also in Fort Madison to participate in the investigation into the fire.

Fire Chief Joey Herren has not been available for questions during the last two days.

Main Street Fort Madison Director Mary Ottoson says Frantz-Hobart is still interested in the project, but she says it is too early to tell how the Metropolitan will fit into the plan.

The company is seeking a $3-million forgivable loan from the state to help pay for the $8-million - $10-million project.

Ottoson says the application is due March 1, 2013, so there will be time to determine how the Metropolitan will fit into the future plans.

Meanwhile, the building next to the Metropolitan Hotel is one of the 13-properties participating in Fort Madison’s façade improvement program.

Ottoson says 613 Avenue G suffered heavy water damage and light smoke damage, but firefighters were able to protect the building from structural damage.

She says the owner will have to decide whether to remain in the program, which she expects will happen as the façade was not damaged.

Crews have started working on three of the participating buildings.

It could be early next year before the program reaches the 600 block of Avenue G.