Construction to begin this fall on hotel in Novelty Iron Works building

Following pandemic-related construction delays, work is slated to begin this fall on a boutique hotel in Dubuque’s Millwork District.

Officials with development company Main Street Community Capital, which is creating the hotel, recently announced that they had selected Meyer Jabara Hotels to manage the planned hotel in the Novelty Iron Works building, 333 E. 10th St.

The project, a partnership with Hyatt Hotels, originally was announced in fall 2020, and the hotel was slated to open by the end of 2021.

However, David Rachie, partner with Main Street Community Capital, said this week that the “one-two punch” of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and supply-chain issues delayed construction. Work now is slated to start this fall, with a grand opening planned for fall 2023.

“We’re very, very excited,” Rachie said. “Dubuque has a great (hospitality) market that really has rebounded extremely well from COVID, which has made it much easier for us to get going.”

The hotel will be modeled on Hyatt’s JDV brand — drawn from the French phrase “joie de vivre,” meaning “exuberant enjoyment of life” — which focuses on boutique-style properties.

“It’s more of a luxury brand, in terms of the comfort and service you can expect, and it works wonderfully for historic buildings like the Novelty Iron Works,” Rachie said.

The Novelty Iron Works building already houses apartments and multiple businesses, boasting Backpocket Taproom and Beercade, The Comedy Bar, Gary Dolphin’s Iron Bar, Gino’s East Pizza, Vivie Boutique, Rustic Charm Decor Barn, The Consignment Store, Joey Wallis Photography, two ballrooms and various meeting rooms.

Bob Johnson, co-owner and developer of the Novelty Iron Works building and partner with Main Street Community Capital, said the hotel is the logical next step to complete the facility.

“It really rounds out the vision that we’re a mixed-use building,” he said. “You can live here, you can stay here, you can play here and you can work here. That’s always been the vision, and we’ve never really had a lodging component yet. I think it’s really the fruition of an overall vision for the redevelopment.”

The hotel will feature between 92 and 103 rooms located on the first, second and third floors of the Novelty Iron Works building. A newly-announced addition to the hotel is a rooftop restaurant and bar, which will function as the hotel’s main restaurant.

“It will be the only thing like it in Dubuque,” Johnson said, later adding, “We’ve already got some awesome food options in our district, but we’ve got room for more. I think it will offer more reasons to come and more variety once you get here to the district.”

Johnson also noted that Main Street Community Capital will acquire the entire Novelty Iron Works building in the near future, likely prior to the start of construction on the hotel. Meyer Jabara Hotels eventually will serve as property manager for the site.

Main Street Community Capital formerly was known as OZ Hotels and Resorts. The acronym referred to the development group’s emphasis on projects in Opportunity Zones, which incentivize investment in low-income census tracts.

However, Rachie said the group also works on projects outside of Opportunity Zones and has expanded into multi-family housing in addition to hotels and resorts, prompting the name change.

“Main Street Community Capital is a much larger outfit that is acquiring stabilized real estate … as well as doing new development,” Johnson said. “So (the Novelty Iron Works project) fits very well in that strategy.”

Araceli DeWitt, general manager of Gino’s East Pizza, said the arrival of the hotel likely will boost sales for the restaurant and its fellow business tenants in the Novelty Iron Works building.

“We’re looking forward to having that extra set of customers right inside of our building. That’ll be huge for us,” she said. “Anything that brings people down here to the Millwork District is helpful for us for sure. And with that hotel, I think, people are going to be here on vacation, so they’ll be looking for things to do and places to eat, and there’s nothing better than just going right downstairs.”