A couple projects are moving ahead as the Maple City works to breathe new life into its downtown.
Monmouth College Comes Downtown
For one of the projects, the historic restoration firm Frantz-Hobart bought the vacant building at 230 South Main Street. It will be rented to Monmouth College for use as a black-box theater.
Paul Schuytema, Director of Monmouth Community Development, said this is a great way of developing a college presence downtown without having a building come off the tax rolls.
“I’m thrilled to death. It’s one of the most exciting things that has come out of the whole downtown renovation,” Schuytema said.
The building dates back to the early 1900s. It was originally a roller rink and served a number of uses over the years, including as the Martha Brown department store.
Schuytema said Frantz-Hobart, the college, and the city will each put some money into the project, which he believed will cost somewhere in the “$500,000 - $750,000 range.”
The new space will replace the college’s WIT black-box theater, which was located in the basement of a building that the college said will be “mothballed.” The new theater will be twice the size of the WIT.
The theater will tie in with other projects along South Main, including the proposed South Main Arts Center.
Meanwhile, Schuytema said construction is nearly complete on seven, high-end loft apartments on the public square.
“We’ve never really had nice quality, high-end rental in Monmouth anywhere,” Schuytema said. “So it’s kind of exciting to have that happening.”
Schuytema said as part of the plan to re-energize Monmouth’s core, it’s important to have people living downtown as well as working there.
He said there are plans for another eight to twelve apartments in other buildings around the square.