With renovations winding down, Roshek Building owners look to future

With renovations nearly completed, the owners of a prominent downtown Dubuque building hope refurbished common areas and reimagined office spaces will help with long-term employee recruitment and retention.

As of this fall, the lion’s share of renovations have been completed at the historic Roshek Building at 700 Locust St. In addition to myriad offices and co-working spaces, the building also has a rooftop meeting room, food court and employee fitness center.

The downtown building is co-owned by insurance broker Cottingham & Butler and HTLF, the holding company for Dubuque Bank & Trust. The building acquisition in 2019 cost roughly $12 million, and both companies since have made additional “seven- to eight-figure” investments, company officials said.

“To me, it’s been everything that we were hoping for,” said David Becker, CEO of Cottingham & Butler. “Neither one of us could do this alone, so the ability to work together really made this possible, and both our employee bases have benefited.”

HTLF occupies the fourth, fifth and sixth floors of the building, while Cottingham & Butler operates on the third, seventh, eighth and ninth. The rooftop, lobby and basement include several shared spaces and employee amenities.

Between the two companies, more than 700 people work at the Roshek Building. Lower levels also include tenants such as Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, and HTLF is working on moving DB&T’s headquarters there, as well. The bank branch is expected to open in November.

The two companies’ purchase of the building marked a new chapter for the space, which dates back to the early 1930s when it operated as a popular department store. While the building is not open to the general public currently, for decades it hosted holiday events and other community gatherings in its lobby.

The building also served as IBM’s Dubuque offices until the tech company’s departure in 2020.

HTLF and Cottingham & Butler purchased the building from Dubuque Initiatives, a nonprofit dedicated to downtown revitalization.

“We’ve very, very proud of the building,” said Bruce K. Lee, HTLF president and CEO. “… For Dubuquers, I think (they) can be proud of what we’ve done with this landmark … to create such a unique environment.”

A large focus of the remodel was employee engagement and retention, Lee added.

Offices were designed with co-working in mind, and a shared auditorium in the basement was retrofitted with a new audiovisual system to allow for better hybrid meetings between remote and in-person workers.

A large rooftop space includes both indoor and outdoor meeting areas that can hold more than 300 people with a view of downtown Dubuque and the nearby Mississippi River.

“We wanted to provide a different type of work environment for our employees,” Lee said. “… People are more focused on their health now, both their fitness and mental well-being, so we wanted to create a place (that supported that).”

Other shared amenities include the food court and employee fitness center. Breakfast and lunch options are available for employees, along with ample seating to eat with coworkers or hold informal meetings.

The fitness center is in the building’s basement and is available to employees and their spouses for a small monthly fee. It is run in collaboration with Volv Fitness and includes classes and equipment for individual use.

Suggestion boxes are set up throughout the building for employees to recommend additional offerings, too, such as new lunch options or additional fitness classes.

“All of this is for employees,” said Angie Long, senior vice president at Cottingham & Butler. “It’s about supporting them and retaining them and finding out what we can do next to make their work lives better, … so absolutely we want to hear their feedback.”

Both companies are looking to complete a few smaller projects throughout the end of this year, including some cleaning and masonry work on the building’s north side that has led to the temporary closure of Eighth Street between Locust and Main.

Some minor work also is taking place on the companies’ respective floors, and an elevator-modernization project is being completed for increased security.

With much of the renovation work behind them, leaders at both HTLF and Cottingham & Butler expressed optimism for the future in their historic downtown home.

“We’re creating a space that people want to be a part of,” Becker said. “The goal now is to fill those spaces, bring in more people and just add more vibrancy to the building.”