Empty historic building in Boone set for renovation

Posted at 6:24 PM, Sep 17, 2022

BOONE, Iowa (AP) — Sani Tadic laughs when he says his company paid $25,000 for the historic Boone News Republican building in downtown Boone.

“It’s in really bad shape and it’s probably not worth that much,” said Tadic, owner of Alfas Properties in West Des Moines. “Even the appraiser said it honestly probably isn’t worth anything at all.”

The building at 812 Keeler St. was built in 1912, and the newspaper vacated it in 2004.

It was empty and used for storage until the Boone Elks Committee bought it in 2017. But its plans to remodel and revitalize the building into an Elks Lodge never became a reality.

Despite the haunting conditions of the interior of the building, Tadic said he isn’t put off by the challenge.

“The property is very structurally sound. It has good bones,” Tadic told the Ames Tribune. “Even the interior foundation walls are in really good shape. It’s a really heavy-duty-looking structure and there’s great history behind it.”

Boone City Administrator Bill Skare said the community is excited to see work on the building. The city partnered with Alfas Properties and the Ames Economic Development Commission to write a grant application to the Iowa Economic Development Authority for the project, which includes renovating the building into two second-story apartments, two ground-floor apartments and two ground-floor commercial space units.

Iowa granted $100,000. The city provided another $30,000 as a Boone Downtown Incentive Grant to repair the facade, which in spots has crumbling and skewed stone, while the lower windows have been boarded up to a fraction of their original size.

Tadic said his company is putting in another $350,000 for the project.

“The city couldn’t be any happier that Alfas Properties purchased this building and is bringing back this really good building from the past,” Skare said. “This state grant of $100,000 is a big deal for Boone.”

The city just completed final paperwork two weeks ago, Tadic said, so interior work started last week. The first major element will be replacing the roof, he said.

“Everything stems from the roof,” Tadic said. “It’s in the worst shape with major holes through it.”

Due to delays in the supply chain because of the pandemic, Tadic said the best case scenario is that the building is completed in fall 2023. But it could push to spring 2024.

When open, the four, one-bedroom apartments will likely rent in the range of $700 to $800 per month, with reserved parking spaces for tenants, Tadic said. Units will range from 500 square feet to 904 square feet.

One commercial space will be 1,100 square feet and the other will be 840 square feet.

Tadic said he sees the commercial space as a significant opportunity for the city.

“There’s a lot of potential there. Next door is a chiropractor, so one space or both spaces could be used for medical or dental,” Tadic said. “But it would also be a good spot for a gym or a restaurant.

“It’s right in the center of Boone and we really want to try to bring in something that is a need for the city rather than just throwing anyone in there.”

Skare said the Alfas Properties project is a sign of things to come for Boone.

“We’ve received other grants but this one is a big deal in downtown,” Skare said. “Remediation and remodeling downtown buildings is needed in our community.”

Skare said Alfas Properties came to the city with the idea to apply for the state grant.

“And that’s how this kind of thing starts. A business owner comes to us and asks us to apply for the grant on their behalf. But they have to be willing to invest in their own building because it’s a matching grant,” Skare said.

Skare said he is hopeful another Boone business will come forward to apply for next year’s state grant, which focuses on projects in city’s downtowns. While the state grants can go toward work in the entire building, the city’s incentives are reserved for exterior repairs.

The city started the granting effort in 2013. Other buildings and businesses that have benefited from the program are the Dutch Oven Bakery, 605 Story St., the former JCPenney building at 702 Story St., and the Saints Avenue Cafe, 1312 S. Story St.

“Any city with a strong downtown is a prosperous and vibrant city,” Skare said. “I think this makes the community show well when prospective businesses or young families considering moving to Boone come give us a look. It really does make a difference.”

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