Ellsworth Estates Project Takes Shape; How development gets a grant and a new name

By Sara Konrad Baranowski on August 3, 2016

Progress marches on at the site of the former Ellsworth Municipal Hospital on Rocksylvania Avenue in Iowa Falls, and the group that planned and is constructing a residential development on the site recently learned it’s getting some help from the state.

The Ellsworth Neighborhood Investment Group first pitched its vision for the old hospital property in April 2015.  Its members saw potential in the 18-acre site that’s close to downtown and recreational trails, while being surrounded by mature trees.  The Iowa Falls City Council saw the potential too, and last fall it approved a $700,000 incentive package for the developers, with half of that money coming from Hansen Family Hospital and other half from the City.  Now, the developers can add almost half a million dollars to the outside help they’re getting.

The group’s spokesperson, Jenny Steinfeldt-Rabe, announced last week that the project was chosen by the Iowa Economic Development Authority to receive an award through the Workforce Housing Tax Incentive Program.  The total value of the award is $429,600, and is split between tax credits and sales tax refunds on building materials.

Steinfeldt-Rabe, who wrote the application for the award, said the program is intended to help with the expenses of certain housing developments.

“Its purpose is to assist development of workforce housing by providing financial incentives for housing programs that are repurposing or redeveloping structures,” she said. That fits in with the part of the project that’s the focus right no: converting portions of the old clinic and hospital into condominiums.

“We had to meet certain stipulations,” said Steinfeldt-Rabe, who reached out to Iowa Falls Area Development Corporation Executive Director Cindy Litwiller for assistance with the application.

Project gets a name

The state award isn’t the only news coming out of the old hospital site.  Steinfeldt-Rabe said the group has also decided on a name for the new neighborhood: Ellsworth Estates.  She said it was important to the group to keep the Ellsworth name alive on that block.

“That name means something to the community,” she said.  “It just kind of fit.”

Ellsworth Estates will be the name for the entire neighborhood once it’s built.  Right now, the investment group is focused solely on completing the condominiums project and meeting the benchmarks set out in the City’s incentive package.  And, for the most part, it’s on schedule.”

“We had a setback, but we’re pretty much on track,” Steinfeldt-Rabe said.  “We’re still going for a spring 2017 completion.  That’s our first focus.”

Part of the delay, she said, was the group’s decision to salvage more of the old hospital building.  Original plans called for demolition of the entire hospital, but keeping the clinic building, which was built in 1999, to convert it into condominiums.  But, Steinfeldt-Rabe said, they were able to salvage more of the hospital building.  That meant architects had to alter the plans, which slowed progress.  The building will have space for two additional condominiums because of the altered plans.

The group has not yet started marketing the condos, but Steinfeldt-Rabe said eight people have already expressed serious interest in buying a one-or two-bedroom unit.

The group of developers includes Rick Gustin of Iowa Falls Heating and AC Inc., Lance Sharar of King Construction and Overhead Door Inc., John Zoske of Zoske Electrical Services Inc., and Rick McDowell of McDowell & Sons Inc.  It first pitched its idea for a housing development in April 2015.  The plans – as presented to the public – call for construction of condominiums first.  Eventually, the site is planned to also have three apartment buildings, eight two-story town houses, 12 two-story row-style homes and 12 two-story single family homes.  While the condominiums are scheduled to be done by next spring, the group has not made public any dates for beginning or ending construction of the other housing structures.

For more information contact Sara at skonrad@iafalls.com