Oskaloosa Downtown Development, LLC (ODD) will host an Open House at the McMillen Block Building (formerly Swim’s), 210 1 st Ave. E., Oskaloosa, Friday, Oct. 13, from 4-7 pm. ODD is celebrating the restoration and re-opening of the building which was damaged by a fire May 11, 2015. The Open House will begin with a ribbon cutting at 4 pm, followed by public tours of the first-floor commercial space and upstairs apartments until 7 PM.
The McMillen Building was constructed in 1881 by local physician Dr. B.F. McMillen. Over the years it has served the community as a meat market, laundry, grocery store, hardware store and Swim’s Sporting Goods.
“We’re excited to see what’s next for the McMillen Building and what type of business will open up in the space,” said Jim Hansen, president of the ODD Board. The first floor is 4800 square feet and has been gray-boxed. It is ready for custom finishes to suit the next occupant.
The second floor that was once office space, has been extended and converted into four two-bedroom
apartments. With cooperation from neighboring building owners, ODD was able to extend the second
floor across the whole 120 feet of the first floor. This allowed for four two bedroom apartments, which are
about 1000 sf each. They feature exposed brick original to the building and large windows on the north
and south which offer natural light in the living area.
The restoration process involved stabilizing the structure, removing the fire and water-damaged debris,
shoring up the walls, stabilizing the shared foundation walls, installing energy efficient windows, rebuilding
the roof, interior walls and the HVAC systems, and constructing apartments on the second floor.
Thanks to the cooperation of neighboring building owners, all three buildings are safer and meet today’s
building code standards. The cost was shared by putting in one sprinkler system across all three
buildings. The owners also worked together to solve egress issues that were common to both Brickhouse
and McMillen as they create upper story housing.
“I can’t say enough good things about this project,” said Mayor David Krutzfeldt.
This project was possible because of the support and partnership of many. It was funded by grants from
Main Street Iowa, Brownfield and Workforce Housing tax credits, tax increment financing from the City of
Oskaloosa, a contribution from the Oskaloosa Housing Trust Fund, contributions from Doug and Kathy
Swim, and private contributions.
“We also owe thanks to Steve Hicks from MidwestOne Bank, for working through the financing,” said Hansen.
“We are grateful to Doug and Kathy Swim for their cooperation and contribution to the project, as well as the owners of the neighboring businesses who were impacted by the fire,” said Hansen.
“ODD is proud to play a part in preserving, restoring and maintaining our historic downtown,” said Hansen. “We see a growing demand for upper story apartments in the downtown. We are also excited to see business growth and an increasing number of events in the downtown.”
“Our downtown has been called by many one of the most beautiful anywhere,” he said. “Our predecessors built the downtown with a vision for the long-term future of the community. It’s our responsibility to create a new vision and plan to maintain buildings like McMillen for future generations to enjoy.”
According to Mayor Krutzfeldt, the insurance company thought it would just be best to demolish the building. But the Oskaloosa Downtown Development stepped up and saw an opportunity. “Let’s repurpose it such a way that we can improve our downtown housing situation and also offer retail on the first floor,” said Krutzfeldt. “That kind of vision makes for a tremendous community partner.”