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Renovation planned along Keokuk’s historic Main Street

The goal is to bring new life to empty buildings in the 1100 block of Main St. in Keokuk.
Will Buss
The goal is to bring new life to empty buildings in the 1100 block of Main St. in Keokuk.

A not-for-profit group plans to renovate abandoned buildings in downtown Keokuk.

Main Street Keokuk Inc. will redevelop about a dozen empty buildings in the 1100 block of Main Street. The storefronts and $400,000 in cash have been donated to the group to help with the project.

Only three businesses occupy store fronts on the block: Dr. Getwell’s Bar & Grill at 1100 Main St.; Tri State Window and Pool at 1106 Main St., and L Treyn’s Bar at 1108 Main St.

Keokuk Public Works Director Brian Carroll said the empty buildings are at least 100 years old. Carroll, who also serves as vice president of Main Street Keokuk Inc.’s board, said that the group wants to refurbish the buildings and retain the historic facades and historic architecture.

“The bones are all good. The structures are all good,” Carroll said.

“We'll make sure that you don't have any concern about the front of the buildings or anything like that, and then a developer comes in and then takes control of them and takes it from there. That would be great.”

Main Street Keokuk board treasurer Linda Mullen said the organization wants to save the buildings from demolition and bring new life to them.

“There are several of them that are in a pretty good state of disrepair, and they've been sitting vacant for quite some time,” Mullen said.

Main Street Keokuk Inc. has been working with the community to provide redevelopment in downtown Keokuk since 1986.

Mullen said one of the group’s more substantial development projects was refurbishing the former Fraternal Order of Eagles building on Blondeau Street. The red-brick building was built in 1925.

Main Street Keokuk acquired the 13,000 square-foot building in 2011. Renovation of the upstairs was completed in 2013 and the first floor was finished the following year.

The building now houses both Wells Fargo Advisors and Barnett Financial Partners on the first floor and four new apartments on the second floor.

Mullen said Main Street Keokuk serves as a liaison to help start redevelopment of abandoned downtown properties.

“Our goal in acquiring them and getting a little seed money to work with them is to just try and stabilize the buildings to start with and then work with a contractor or a developer,” Mullen said.

Carroll said structural reports for the vacant buildings are anticipated within the next two months. He said conceptual drawings could be completed by the end of the year, which could ultimately clear the way for the renovation to begin next year.

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