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The Scarlet & Black

Spaulding Lofts bring housing diversity


By Carter Howe

In the first building of the new Spaulding Lofts development, just four of its 38 apartments are vacant. A second building, which is still under renovation, in the complex will add 39 additional apartments and is expected to be completed sometime early this winter. In addition to trendy, small apartments with the original industrial features of the building, such as exposed brick, still intact, the development will also feature amenities such as a fitness center, business center with computers and a community room.

Unsold Spaulding Lofts apartments at the old Spaulding factory in downtown Grinnell will go on sale this February, says Ryan Eaton, leasing manager of the lofts at west Des Moines based Hubble Realty, the project’s developer.

Grinnell Mayor Gordon Canfield said the lofts will increase Grinnell’s housing stock and provide housing for younger people and workers that commute into Grinnell.

Photo by Ellen Schoenmaker

“The target demographic is people aged about 20-38. That group is targeted because we really had no housing in Grinnell that suited them . … We knew that there were a lot of people who worked in Grinnell who did not live in Grinnell, and so a … survey was taken, … and the question was why don’t you live in Grinnell?” Canfield said.  “When we encountered these people, they said, ‘well, you know we couldn’t find the housing that we either could afford or like to live in.’”

Both Canfield and Eaton also said that the Spaulding Lofts provide a new type of housing in Grinnell that was previously lacking. Ryan said the tenants seemed particularly excited about the architecture and the amenities included.

“From what I’m hearing from people, there’s nothing like it within the city or even within the immediate area, so to have this kind of architecture, which is typically found in bigger cities is kind of a new concept for the area. Other things the tenants seem to be really excited about is the amenities that are included,” Eaton said.

Canfield said that, though there are existing homes available, the Spaulding Lofts provide a good option for young people because of their compactness and low maintenance costs as opposed to existing housing.

“They’re not too big. … The existing housing is kind of interesting,” Canfield said. “Young people today don’t really want to buy an older house that they have to work on and fix up … if you’re working full time or your spouse or partner is working full time, you just don’t have time to work on houses and it’s expensive.”

Attracting future workers to live in the city that would otherwise commute is another goal of the project, Canfield said. Local employers with open positions, like Jeld Wyn Windows, the Brownell company and Grinnell Regional Medical Center have had a hard time finding labor. Currently 26 percent of people that work in Grinnell do not live in Grinnell. “It was found out that a lot of young people didn’t move to Grinnell although they got a job here. …We didn’t want that to happen anymore, we’re not gonna get that 26 percent of those workers because they’re already established, but we don’t want the new 26 percent to go someplace. … So what we’re trying to do is make it easier to get the workers our town needs to grow,” Canfield said.

In the end, Eaton said, this development is good for everybody involved: the City of Grinnell, Hubble Realty, the people of Grinnell and the historic Spaulding factory as well.

“I think it’s just kind of a mutual benefit. The city came to us expressing a shortage in housing, and we’ve got the experience in renovating older buildings such as these and nobody really wanted to see the buildings go to waste, so it kind of turned into a win-win for everybody, as far as for the city and us,” Eaton said. “We’re able to renovate the buildings and employ people through construction, as well as, you know, provide some additional housing for Grinnell residents or even people that are moving into the city.”


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