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Getting Started

Downtown facade project begins at Central Avenue building

Construction workers on scaffolding are cleaning and repairing the brick walls of a downtown Fort Dodge building in the first stage of a major project that will transform the look of several structures along Central Avenue.

”I’m excited,” said Rick Thompson, the owner of the building at Central Avenue and 11th Street, as he watched the workers on a recent afternoon.

”I can’t wait for it to be done,” he added.

The brickwork plus new windows and awnings for the structure — along with upgrades on eight other buildings — are being paid for in part with a $500,000 downtown revitalization grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

That grant will cover 50 percent of the total project costs. The city government is covering 25 percent of the total project costs through tax increment financing while property owners like Thompson are contributing the remaining 25 percent.

The building at Central Avenue and 11th Street is the first one to be worked on as part of the project.

The structure has two addresses. The Central Avenue side where Harty’s Caddy Shack Cafe is located has an address of 1101 Central Ave. The rest of the building, which includes eight apartments and the former Captain Hook’s Lounge, has an address of 7 S. 11th St. Lettering above the main entrance on the South 11th Street side identifies the structure as the Cadwell Building.

It was built in 1916, according to online records of the Webster County Assessor’s Office.

Longtime Fort Dodge residents may recall when the Hobby Craft store occupied the spot where Harty’s Caddy Shack Cafe is now. The building was a station for the Fort Dodge, Des Moines and Southern Railroad. Later, the Greyhound bus depot was there. Thompson said after he was drafted by the Army in 1972, he boarded a bus there to go to basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

Now, some 48 years after he boarded that bus, Thompson owns the building.

The brick exterior walls will be cleaned and repaired in a process called tuckpointing. When the work is done, all the mortar between the bricks will be the same color, Thompson said.

All the windows and doors on the first floor will be replaced. Bright yellow panels around the entrance to Harty’s Caddy Shack Cafe will be replaced with windows.

Awnings will be placed over the entrances on the Central Avenue and South 11th Street sides.

The project is to be done by the end of the year, Thompson said.

The other buildings to get a facade facelift from the project are at 1000 Central Ave. (Little Joe’s Computers), 11 N. 10th St., 15 N. 10th St. (Brass Monkey Lounge), 1018 Central Ave., 1020 Central Ave. (Sew Formal), 16 N. 11th St (Fireside Lounge), 1104 Central Ave. and 1108 Central Ave. (Mary Kay’s Gifts and Home Decor).

Cornerstone Commercial Contractors Inc., of Corning, was hired by the City Council last month to do the work at a cost of $867,500.

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