Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 19, 2018

Council approves 2 projects

Feb 07, 2018

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


Two projects to reuse two vacant buildings in Washington moved ahead during the Washington City Council meeting Tuesday evening, as the council held public hearings then voted to approve a project to give the former Pamida Building a sewer and a development agreement for the former Goncho Apartments.

During the meeting, the council approved a right of way services agreement with Cornerstone Property Management to install a sewer line to the former Pamida building at 1701 E. Washington St. The council also approved a construction permit application to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The building has been vacant since 2009. Cornerstone plans to renovate and reoccupy the building.

Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson explained that the building is served by an out-of-compliance septic tank and that the sewer line to that area is on the other side of the highway, making in cost-prohibitive to connect with the building. Cornerstone plans, with the city’s help, to bring the sewer to the building from the back of the property, through a farm field. The deal is that the city would acquire the necessary easements for the project and the sewer materials and to allow Cornerstone to use the commercial tax abatement. Cornerstone will install the sewer improvements with its labor and at its cost. The hope is for the sewer to be constructed before planting season in the spring.

The development agreement on the project may be discussed at the Feb. 13 meeting if all terms are finalized by then.

The council also held public hearings to amend the downtown urban renewal plan and for a development agreement with Andy Drahota to move forward with the plan to demolish the former Goncho Apartment building to construct town houses.

After hearing no comments, the council approved changes to the urban renewal plan to add the redevelopment of the building at 306 N. Marion Ave.

The council also approved the development agreement with Drahota after hearing no input during the public hearing.

Owners Andy Drahota and Dave Waite were recently awarded a demolition permit from the city to make way for the redevelopment project.

Hinson said the plan is to construct six 2-story town house units with about 1,600 square feet each and garages.

Goncho has been unoccupied since the building was ruled unsafe and the tenants were required to move out in January 2013.

A meth lab had been discovered in one of the rooms. The building had also been inspected and a list of safety items had been given to the owner.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Feb 12, 2018 15:56

Ciderworks to expand production

By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Feb 08, 2018
Source: PHOTO COURTESY OF KATIE GREENFIELD This is an aerial view of Jefferson County Ciderworks, which plans to expand its production facilities into a vacant 12,000-square foot building on Grimes Avenue.

Jefferson County Ciderworks is expanding production and will move into a 12,000-square foot building in Fairfield.

When the new production facility is up and running, the business will be one of the largest cider producers in the state. Renovations are underway, and production is expected to commence at the facility by the end of March. The business is expanding into retail sales with the addition of both a canning and bottling line.

The company bought a building on Grimes Avenue that was once a millwork manufacturing facility, but has been vacant for more than a decade. Katie Greenfield, co-owner of the business with Jesse Narducci, said they liked the idea of breathing life back into an existing building.

“The building itself is in quite good shape,” she said. “It’s got great electrical everywhere. We’ll have to renovate the plumbing and drainage because of the nature of our business. Since it was a millwork facility before, it didn’t have the need for plumbing that we do.”

Jefferson County Ciderworks’s current production facility is 2,500 square feet, just outside town near their 800-tree orchard. Greenfield said they plan to use all the space in the new building, which is essentially three buildings tied together. About 10,000 square feet will be used for production and the remaining space will be for the shop and offices. The company plans to hire two full-time and two part-time workers.

The business’s current office is a combined tap room and production facility. Greenfield said they will continue to do some production at the tap room, and possibly expand it for additional seating.

“There is so much demand for our product,” she said. “We’re planning to enter retail space, so we needed more than our current location could offer.”

Greenfield said she and Narducci kicked around the idea of building a new production facility onto their existing one, but decided against it.

“We felt really strongly from a community perspective to use what was existing within our city before building a new building,” she said. “When manufacturing jobs leave and we have all these buildings sitting vacant for 10 years, how can we build new when there are perfectly good facilities here in town?”

The business noted in a news release that the closure of the former millwork facility was part of a larger economic trend across Iowa, which has lost 39,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000. Meanwhile, the craft beverage sector is booming, contributing $860 million to the state’s economy in 2016.

“With so many manufacturing jobs leaving our state, it was important for us to support the community by investing in existing infrastructure, and create new jobs that can’t be outsourced,” said Narducci, head cidermaker. “Like the heritage cider apple orchards we’ve planted in Jefferson County, this move represents our dedication not only to local agriculture, but also to the local economy, and the community Ciderworks calls home.”

The cidery is working with Indian Hills Community College to develop a branch-to-bottle cidermaking apprentice program focused on teaching how to both farm and ferment apples. Working in the new facility, the fulltime apprentice will learn skills that can be applied elsewhere in the cider business, or in the broader craft brewing and distilling, winemaking, and culinary industries.

“We started this business because we want to grow apples in Iowa, to expand the agricultural community through creating a value-added product,” Greenfield said. “We want to bring back the apple, in all its glory—through new american cidermaking techniques and flavors. In the past few years, we’ve come to see the whole wonderful community in Jefferson County become our friends and supporters—and we’re thrilled that this move will allow use to reach even more people.”



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