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Clear Lake City Council approves grant application to convert upper floor space in downtown building into apartments

CLEAR LAKE — The City Council in Clear Lake last night approved an application for a new state grant that would be used to help convert upper floor space in a downtown building to apartments.

The proposed project includes the conversion of the upper floor of the Corner Drug building at 2 North 4th Street from retail and office space into three apartments. The first floor was recently gutted and renovated as retail space. The apartment layout would include two, two-bedroom apartments and one, one-bedroom apartment.  A Community Development Block Grant program would help by providing a three-year forgivable loan in the amount of $500,000, and in turn, the project developer CRJ Properties headed by Jessica and Austin Wood would have to rent two of the three units to low-to-moderate income residents.

North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corporation CEO Chad Schreck applauded the Woods for stepping up to invest in a key part of the downtown area.  “It’s really unfortunate to be empty as long as it was and for them to really succeed where the rest of us had failed quite frankly. We weren’t able to get through to the ownership and get that into new hands, and they got it done. It wasn’t easy, but they persisted and got through all that. Now they’ve already made an incredible investment in the main floor, and now we see some awesome opportunities on the upper level housing.”

Schreck says the apartments would be a help in the housing needs of Clear Lake. “It’s something that was identified as a core need for us in Vision North Iowa, and ongoing we know that rental housing and just housing in general is a huge priority for us and our businesses. We’re really excited to see what they are doing with this. We know they are going to do it right. They are going to make it a real appealing place to live for people downtown and continue to make it a vibrant place to be. I think it’s a real testimony to what we have here. Another way to keep it special in downtown Clear Lake.”

City Administrator Scott Flory says the grant would be put to good use in renovating the upper floors into living space.  “I think without these kinds of funds coming from the state for this kind of purpose, it would simply be impossible for anyone, short of just a pure love to want to throw a bunch of money into it, to do it on their own. It would not be financially feasible to do that. We walked through the upstairs and it needs a lot of work and I’m not sure that $500,000…it’s a good start.”

The new Community Development Block Grant program is being funded by money from the CARES Act.

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