Sara Konrad Baranowski – March 9, 2017

Ellsworth Estates
The new Ellsworth Estates website (found here) includes an artist’s rendering of the exterior of the repurposed Ellsworth Hospital. The old hospital is being converted into 20 high-end condominiums with parking on the lower level.

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Members of the Iowa Falls City Council got a look inside the old Ellsworth Municipal Hospital Wednesday afternoon as they toured progress on the renovations that will turn the former medical facility into 20 high-end condominiums.

The tour was led by Rick Gustin, who owns Iowa Falls Heating/AC/Plumbing and is one of the four developers who bought the hospital to convert it and the surrounding campus into the Ellsworth Estates neighborhood.

The tour started in unit 103 on the building’s north side. Formerly a portion of the Iowa Falls Clinic, it is unrecognizable. It’s been gutted and is in the process of being rebuilt to become a two-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,500-square-foot condo. The unit – like the others in the building – will include a laundry room, ample closet space and a full kitchen, dining area and living room. It will be priced at around $270,000.

Gustin has been working with his partners, Rick McDowell of McDowell & Sons Inc., John Zoske of Zoske Electrical Service Inc., and Lance Sharar of King Construction & Overhead Door Inc., since the group first pitched its idea to the City Council in March 2015. In the fall of 2015 the men – who call their group Ellsworth Neighborhood Investment Group LLC – signed a $700,000 development agreement with the City. According to the agreement, the group must meet scheduled benchmarks to receive the money, which was contributed by Hansen Family Hospital and by the City (using tax increment financing).

The question of what to do with the old Ellsworth Municipal Hospital was raised even before ground was broken to build the new Hansen Family Hospital along Highway 65 south of town. As part of planning for the new hospital, a group was formed to discuss the future of the old building, whose campus sat on a dozen acres along Rocksylvania Avenue.

In late 2014 and early 2015, almost a year after the new hospital opened, the City and hospital – which had not received any offers on the property – were preparing to tear down the old hospital to deal with interior deterioration that occurred when the hospital was vacated and utilities were disconnected. It was then that the Ellsworth Neighborhood Investment Group formed and offered its plans for the property. The development agreement was signed in late 2015 and ownership of the building and land transferred from the City to the group of developers. Demolition began in January 2016, and since then contractors have been working to transform the building.

This week the group launched a website advertising the condominiums – complete with preliminary floor plans and prices – and the other structures that will be built on the 18-acre site. Those structures include row houses, townhomes, apartment buildings and single family homes.
Jenny Steinfeldt-Rabe, who has been a spokesperson for the Ellsworth Neighborhood Investment Group, said the first phase of the condos – located in the old clinic portion of the hospital – will be complete in late June or early July. The second phase, which is the south side of the building, will take slightly longer. The group had hoped to have the condos done this spring, but they were delayed by the discovery that they would be able to save more of the old hospital to create more condos. Other issues have also come up – replacement of the elevator, for example – that have added time to the schedule.

There will be 20 units in all, ranging in size from around 800 square feet (one bedroom, one bathroom), to almost 2,000 square feet (two bedrooms, two bathrooms and an office). They range in sale price from around $140,000 to $300,000, and the condos’ owners will pay an association fee for building and grounds maintenance. Each unit comes with at least one indoor parking space (on the building’s lower level) and a heated storage unit. The building also includes communal spaces – both inside and outside – and an exercise facility. One unit has a sale pending, and Steinfeldt-Rabe said there’s been interest in others.

Gustin said work has continued inside throughout the winter, but now that spring is arriving, passersby will see more activity outside. That includes a remake of the exterior (a mix of painted brick and a stone façade), and grading and pouring of driveways and roads on the property.

The new Ellsworth Estates website (found here) includes an artist’s rendering of the exterior of the repurposed Ellsworth Hospital. The old hospital is being converted into 20 high-end condominiums with parking on the lower level.

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