City looking to renovate more downtown buildings for apartments

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


More apartments are being dreamed up in downtown Mt. Pleasant.

The Southeast Iowa Housing Inc. (SEIHI) is requesting the city of Mt. Pleasant apply on their behalf to purchase and renovate 103 to 105 N. Jefferson St. SEIHI, which was developed by the Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission, is a 501(c)3 and is applying for a Community Development Block Grant Pilot Program for upper story rental conversion. SEIHI plans on developing up to seven units at this location. During the Mt. Pleasant City Council meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 24, City Administrator Brent Schleisman said that this new program is trying to initiate more housing for Iowa. ?[The city] has to be the applicant on [SEIHI?s] behalf,? Schleisman said. ?They voted to choose Mt. Pleasant to submit the formal application.?

Schleisman said Mt. Pleasant?s downtown restoration of upper apartments has been very successful so far and he hopes to see more living areas come to downtown.

A public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 14, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

The city council also approved an agreement with Shive Hattery Architecture Engineering Consulting Firm to assist Mt. Pleasant in applying for a new National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for the City Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Schleisman said the city?s current permit expires in 2019, but applying is an extensive process that requires the help of an engineering service to collect and decipher data. The application for the NPDES permit needs to be submitted by this fall.

?We want to get the ball rolling as quick as we can,? Schleisman said. ?It seemed natural to have [Shive Hattery] help us with permit renewal.?

In other news, bid letting for the reconstruction project on South Main and South Jefferson St. will be held in Ames at the Iowa Department of Transportation headquarters on Wednesday, Feb. 28, following a public hearing in Mt. Pleasant City Hall on Feb. 14. Schleisman said that the project is a DOT, federally funded and that there should be a lot of interest from bidders.

Schleisman said that as construction gets underway, the Street committee will convene to gear up to put a communication system in place for residents and businesses downtown to ?make it as painless as we possibly can.?

Other items addressed during the public hearing on Feb. 14, include the sale of the city owned alley on N. Cherry St. and the proposed vacation and sale of the city street right of way on Harvey Drive on the east boundary of Beck?s Seed property.

Beck?s Seed presented a plan to the city to build a 100 by 525 foot building used for warehousing. To meet city code, Beck?s needs to purchase six feet of the right of way to extend the length of their property line along Harvey Drive and accommodate for planned future growth.

Building and Zoning Administrator Jack Swarm said that he doesn?t foresee the sale of that land causing any real changes and will allow for Beck?s to build the building they want.

Mayor Steve Brimhall said the city definitely wants Beck?s to build that building. ?The more money the industry spends on their facility, the more likely they are to stick around with those employees,? he said. ?The property tax value of a building that big would hopefully add a lot of dollars to our revenue.?

Other items addressed during the meeting was approving 2017 tax abatements for improvements made in housing, commercial or newly constructed properties. Residential tax abatements are allowed for five years on $75,000 of improvements, Brimhall said.