Dubuque officials propose purchasing downtown business for $1.7 million for parking ramp

City of Dubuque officials are proposing the purchase of a downtown business for $1.7 million to make space for a parking structure.

City Council members will discuss the purchase of the Hendricks Feed & Seed Co. property, located at 880 and 898 Central Ave., at their meeting on Monday, June 7.

The property eventually would be used as the site for a planned $20 million parking ramp that the city must construct as part of a development agreement with Roshek Property LLC; Cottingham & Butler; and Heartland Financial USA. Meanwhile, Hendricks Feed & Seed will move to a new location, company officials announced.

In late 2019, Cottingham & Butler and Heartland Financial announced plans to purchase the Roshek Building in downtown Dubuque. The city entered a development agreement with the two companies and promised to construct a 500-space parking facility to meet the added parking needs created by the companies’ expansion in the building. The facility must be completed and opened by Dec. 31, 2023.

City documents state that the city has negotiated an offer to buy the Central Avenue property from Hendricks Feed & Seed and that the company then can lease the property from the city at no cost until Sept. 30, 2022.

City Manager Mike Van Milligen said the site was the best option of the properties that city staff examined as a possible location for the new ramp.

“Fortunately, this came out as the best option,” he said. “The owner was willing to discuss a possible acquisition.”

While a city staff assessment valued the property at $1.3 million, Van Milligen said the sale price increased based on negotiations with the property owner and consideration of relocation costs for the company.

Online property records show the two parcels span 1 acre in total and have a combined assessed value of a little less than $1.1 million. The two existing structures both date back to 1890.

Van Milligen said the property will provide the city enough space to create a parking structure with more than 500 spaces. He estimated that the currently planned parking facility would likely consist of about 550 spaces.

He noted that the project still should fall within its estimated $20 million projected cost.

Hendricks Feed & Seed was founded in Dubuque in 1929 and has operated out of its current location since 1942.

In a press release sent to the Telegraph Herald, company President William Hendricks said his business will move to a new location by the time it is required to vacate the current property.

Contacted by phone, Hendricks said the new location has not been determined yet. He declined to comment further.

City Council members reached by the TH on Friday mostly offered support for the proposed property acquisition.

Council Member Danny Sprank said he thinks the price is high, but he ultimately feels it is a necessary purchase for the city.

“It’s a little steep, unfortunately, but that is what Hendricks is willing to negotiate,” he said. “A big part of this project was all about location, and we were not going to get that for cheap.”

Council Member Ric Jones said the location of the new parking ramp is ideal for encouraging further development downtown.

“It also is nicely located next to the Millwork District, which still has room for development,” he said. “On the surface, I think it was a first-choice location, so it should all be good.”

However, Council Member Brad Cavanagh said he was undecided on whether he would support the acquisition, adding that he feels a more in-depth conversation must be held about downtown parking needs after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think there are some questions about what the downtown community is going to look like in the future,” he said. “At the same time, this is one of those steps that we need to take to keep moving that (Roshek Building) project forward.”