Marshalltown saw some big projects either start, finish or make heaps of progress in 2020.
Never a city to be held down by a natural disaster, let alone a global pandemic, the city pressed on. It gathered to watch the spire be placed atop the Marshall County Courthouse, bringing the building one step closer to its pre-tornado glory. It watched as the Veterans Memorial Coliseum was transformed from an outdated event center to what will soon be a hub for activities rivaling central Iowa’s best. It saw its parks and recreation amenities receive makeovers all while being locked down and pummeled with a derecho.
And with that, Marshalltown marches on to a new year filled with new things.
One project which will lead to further development in the future is the completion of the E. Merle Hibbs extension. Construction on the project is expected to be completed next fall.
“It opens up a significant area of land behind Walmart. There’s still going to be land available for purchase,” City Administrator Jessica Kinser said. “There are opportunities for development that strike there. The rest of the area going to the east has not been platted or anything like that. This opens up that next phase.”
The McFarland Clinic’s new medical center will be among the new projects served by the extension. The three-story, approximately 66,000 square-foot facility will be built against a hill on the boulevard, with additional space on its grounds for future development. The facility isn’t expected to open until April 2022.
Marshalltown has long had a need for more housing, especially affordable housing. The coming year will bring back leasing opportunities for Marshalltown Senior Residences. The building at 201 E. Main Street was damaged by the tornado, displacing occupants from 28 apartments. In February 2020 the city council approved a $75,000 state-funded Catalyst Building Grant to help fund fixing the building.
The project’s expected finish date is May.
The Marshalltown Lofts, a 52-unit four-story housing complex, is likely to be near completion in 2021. The apartment building will have 33 one-bedroom units, eight two-bedroom units and 11 three-bedroom units. Housing will be income restricted. The project, 20 E. State Street, has an estimated $8.9 million cost.
Downtown will have more aesthetic improvements coming, some of which still have not been decided on. The public is being asked to weigh in on the next phase of the Downtown Implementation plan. The results of the online survey will provide insight to the council and contractor Bolton & Menk in regards to street scaping and aesthetic improvements as well as traffic patterns and parking in the downtown area.
“Planning wise by June we should have an implementation plan for infrastructure improvements and aesthetic improvements to downtown,” Kinser said. “We’re going to be applying for a Downtown Revitalization Grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority. We’ll be bringing forward design standards and inevitably more buildings will be coming down.”
The removal of unusable buildings, whether damaged by the tornado or otherwise, has been a regular topic of discussion during city council meetings and a concern for the appearance of downtown.
“If you have property in the right hands it could lead to something being developable and sellable for development,” Kinser said.
Mayor Joel Greer is excited to see the new Fareway building constructed and opening next to the current location on W. Anson Street. The current building will remain open until the opening of the new store.
“It’s a duplicate to the one over in Ames. It’s going to be really nice,” Greer said.
While the city continues to build, draw people in and expand its offerings, the council will continue to discuss renewing the local option sales tax. The tax is set to expire in 2025 but the council can put a renewal on the ballot in the fall to extend it until 2035.
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