In late 2019, two prominent, Dubuque-based companies announced their plan to purchase the Roshek Building in downtown Dubuque and significantly expand their respective footprints within the facility.
Two years later, despite navigating the complexities of a global pandemic, this vision is coming into focus.
HTLF, formerly known as Heartland Financial USA, now occupies the middle three floors of the nine-story structure at 700 Locust St. The three levels collectively boast work stations and offices for 400 employees.
Insurance broker Cottingham & Butler, meanwhile, is utilizing the seventh and eighth stories of the structure, with plans to also occupy the ninth floor once renovations are complete.
The increased presence of each company represents a new chapter for the building, which dates back to the early 1930s.
HTLF President and CEO Bruce Lee believes both participating companies needed the other to make it happen.
He said HTLF and Cottingham & Butler were “both growing companies” in need of extra space, but the Roshek Building is so large that neither company wanted to purchase it on its own.
“Combining on this project seemed to make a lot of sense,” Lee said. “Two longtime, strong Dubuque companies helping to take a building that is a landmark and bring it back to its former glory.”
Andrew Butler, executive chairman for Cottingham & Butler, emphasized there is still work to be done. He noted that the lower level ultimately will include a 300-seat auditorium and a workout facility, while the first floor will feature multiple dining options.
To Butler, the project is another example of Dubuque’s willingness to invest in its historic properties.
“It is great to be adding to it,” he said. “The building’s history is impressive, and to leverage that and continue making sure it is viable, I think is really important.”
As the two companies embarked on the project, they never could have guessed the kind of challenges they would encounter.
Work was underway on Heartland’s floors when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the tri-state area in the early spring of 2020. A few months later, officials put the project on pause.
“We had just sent everybody home,” said Lee, recalling the uncertainty his company faced at the time. “We had over 1,300 employees (companywide) that we had retrofitted to work from home. We didn’t know what the space should look like going forward.”
As remote working suddenly entered the mainstream, Heartland officials ultimately decided to “completely redesign” the company’s floors. They ended up building these areas for 75% of the employee capacity initially anticipated.
Chief Marketing Officer Laura Hughes said the workspaces are meant to accommodate new “hybrid work schedules,” in which employees split their time between in-person and remote work.
“Most desks are not assigned,” she said. “Folks can drop in, sit by the window one day and sit somewhere else another day.”
Heartland’s space utilizes an open-floor concept, encouraging cohesion and collaboration.
“This building is a whole block wide, but you can see from one end all the way to the other,” Hughes said.
HTLF officials also noted that they changed the branding of the property, referring to it simply as “700 Locust,” rather than the oft-used Roshek moniker.
HTLF currently employs about 650 people in the Dubuque area, including those who work for subsidiary Dubuque Bank & Trust. Cottingham & Butler has around 800 local employees.
Each company already had a presence at 700 Locust before purchasing the building — Cottingham & Butler occupied the fifth floor , while HTLF occupied the third floor and part of the fourth.
With the purchase of the property, both intended to significantly expand their respective footprints there — a goal that is well on its way to completion.
Now, 700 Locust is the only building in Dubuque that houses HTLF employees. Two years ago, these workers were scattered across four different Dubuque facilities.
Butler, meanwhile, said about 300 Cottingham & Butler employees work in 700 Locust. Once the ninth-story renovations are complete, that figure will swell to 450.
With 800 workers in the Dubuque area, Cottingham & Butler still has staff at multiple local facilities. Even so, Butler is excited about the experience that 700 Locust will offer to employees.
“With the auditorium going in, as well as the workout facility and the dining options, the tenant amenities are going to be a major improvement,” he said.
Butler said he expects that all work, including those amenities and the ninth-floor renovation, will be completed “by end of the third or the fourth quarter next year.”
The sense of momentum at 700 Locust comes on the heels of a period marked by uncertainty for the structure. The arrival of IBM in 2009 led to major investments in the property. But one decade later, its dwindling employee count left many of the building’s floors unoccupied.
HTLF and Cottingham & Butler bought the building for $12 million, breathing new life into it in the process. The companies initially promised an additional $2.85 million investment in property improvements. Director of Corporate Communications Ryan Lund said HTLF has “far exceeded” that threshold. He also noted that the company worked with local partners along the way.
The recent purchase of the building at 700 Locust might not have generated the fanfare of IBM’s arrival, but Lee believes the building’s latest chapter sets it up for long-term success.
“In the long run, we might have a better community investment now,” he said. “We have two companies dedicated to the ownership and our commitments to Dubuque.”