2 Dubuque historic preservation projects land $1.75 million in tax credits

A pair of Dubuque-based historic preservation projects this week were awarded a combined $1.75 million in state tax credits.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority approved a $1.1 million credit to insurance broker Cottingham & Butler, which recently completed a preservation project at the Security Building, 800 Main St.

An additional $655,000 was awarded to Driftless Properties LLC for a series of upgrades at 168 E. 10th St.

Bobby Koneru presided over restoration work to the latter building. It formerly housed Avery Railing and now is home to an event center known as The Driftless.

Its restoration started in late 2017 and was completed in the fall of 2019. The building now houses Airbnb vacation rental space, a bar and restaurant available to the public, and a large ballroom that can house everything from company events to weddings.

“We did a complete overhaul of the building,” Koneru said.

The interior rehabilitation has since garnered awards on both the local and state levels.

Compared to building a new structure, Koneru emphasized that historic preservation projects are extremely difficult to pull off.

“When you are building something from scratch, the expenses and the time it takes to complete the project are significantly lower,” he said. “If you are rehabbing an old building, there are always surprises that end up escalating the cost.”

He emphasized that the state historic preservation tax credits allow such preservation projects to take place, providing the support that makes the financial pieces fit together.

“It does a great service to the community,” Koneru said. “You revitalize locations and buildings that weren’t doing anything before. The Millwork District is a great testament to that.”

Cottingham & Butler, meanwhile, recently completed a series of projects that included a full renovation to its second floor and partial renovation to its third floor at 800 Main St.

While most of the improvements will be seen only by employees, some of the interior upgrades improve the overall aesthetic of the building.

“When you look at the building from the outside now, there is a consistent theme from top to bottom,” said Executive Chairman Andrew Butler.

The two Dubuque projects were among 10 statewide that received a total of $20.5 million in tax credits this week.

Butler believes such credits support the restoration of historic buildings and contribute to the character of Iowa communities.

“The culture and heartbeat of a community is its history, and the old buildings are the best reflection of history that the community actually has,” said Butler.