- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 29, 2016

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - The city of Fort Dodge has committed $20,000 to a study in an effort to help revitalize a vacant and deteriorating downtown building.

The Messenger (https://bit.ly/1RxoSHN ) reports that the city signed a memorandum of understanding Monday to team up with the Fort Dodge Community Foundation to conduct the study of the Warden Plaza.

The eight-story building was constructed around 1925 and has been vacant for a decade. Johnston-based Iowa Business Growth consultant Zachary Mannheimer will be hired to assess its economic leverage and how it could be used.

“Trying to identify the marketplace, what could go there, what it could be used for, other funding opportunities is vital to moving this project forward,” Mayor Matt Bemrich said.

City Manager David Fierke said the study will determine how to best use the lower, commercial floors of the building, not just the upper housing floors.

“There is a lot of office space available downtown. There is a lot of commercial space downtown, and you don’t have to pay a lot of rent for it,” Fierke said. “Redeveloping that into commercial space is not as easy as, hey, let’s just do it and we know we’ll fill it up.”

Developers have wanted to create new housing spaces on the upper floors for a long time.

“The idea is, residential developers can probably make the residential floors work well,” Fierke said. “The big hurdle is what goes in the commercial floors?”

Officials say the study will involve community arts groups in order to make the space beautiful and think of creative ways to use it. The study will also examine the viability of turning the building into a new recreational center.

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Information from: The Messenger, https://www.messengernews.net

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