TH EXCLUSIVE: Renovation of historic Dubuque building into apartments progressing

The renovation of a historic manufacturing building in downtown Dubuque into 48 apartments is nearing completion.

Conlon Construction Co. and Kretschmer LLC are renovating the 48,000-square-foot building at 220 E. Ninth St. in the Millwork District, with plans to complete the apartments, named Kretschmer Lofts, by Oct. 1.

Once the $12 million project is completed, the building will feature one-, two- and three-bedroom units and a basement with a lounge, bar and golf simulator.

City Council members this week approved amending a development agreement tied to the project to extend a required completion deadline from May 1 to Nov. 1. This is the second time that the completion deadline has been extended from its original date of March 19, 2021.

The city awarded the project $515,000 in incentives through the development agreement, including a downtown housing incentive grant of $480,000.

Matt Mulligan, president and chief operating officer of Conlon Construction, said the apartments originally were designed to appeal to young professionals, but officials have seen interest from people from a wide range of demographics seeking to secure housing in downtown Dubuque.

“The hope is those that are maybe working remote can still work in their apartments here, and if they need conference space or to swing a golf club, they can do that,” Mulligan said. “We are seeing a lot of older folks that want to downsize here as well.”

The building formerly housed Kretschmer Manufacturing Co., now known as First Supply Dubuque, until it relocated in 2007.

In January 2015, Hirschbach Motor Lines officials announced their intention to spend $9 million to move their offices to the building, but the company announced a year later that it was no longer pursuing the project due to its workforce growing faster than anticipated.

In 2020, Conlon Construction and Kretschmer LLC announced their plans to invest $10.5 million to renovate the building. In addition to the incentives from the city, the project received about $4 million in state and federal historic tax credits, Mulligan said. However, construction costs rose by $1.5 million as work continued and supply-chain issues strained the availability of materials.

Mulligan said a main focus of the project is to retain the historic identity of the building. Heavy iron doors hang in the hallways, the original staircases remain intact, and stained brick walls are exposed.

“You could power or sandblast that off, but that’s part of the character of the building,” Mulligan said.

The building’s three floors will feature apartment units, while the basement will include a variety of amenities made available exclusively to tenants. Mulligan said the planned golf simulator was highly requested by surveyed young professionals. An open patio will be installed on the roof.

Conlon Construction also is working to determine a use for a vacant space directly west of the building. Mulligan said officials intend to convert it into some sort of public amenity, which could include green space or a square for live music.

Mulligan said monthly rent will range from about $900 to a little more than $2,000, depending on the unit. As part of the development agreement with the city, the apartment building also will be required to accept tenants receiving government-subsidized housing assistance.

Mulligan also noted that the units will be pet-friendly.

Ian Hatch, assistant economic development director for the city, said the project addresses the city’s goal of adding more housing downtown, which will make the community more attractive for employers.

“Housing is a huge need for the area,” Hatch said. “We hear it from the business side that there is a strain on the workforce to find housing. We expect this project to have an impact on that.”

Mulligan said pre-leasing for Kretschmer Lofts started about one month ago, and about one-third of the units have been claimed so far. Based on initial reactions, he expects the apartments will be a welcomed addition to the area.

“It’s the next obvious big step for the Millwork District,” Mulligan said. “We have had a lot of people already wanting to come and see it, and there is already a lot of excitement going around.”