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The Scarlet & Black

The College envisions new purpose for 1021 Main Street

Chloe Wray

After purchasing and demolishing the 1021 Main Street building — the former location of McNally’s — the College now plans to fill the lot with a four-story building, the would-be tallest in Grinnell, including over 20 rental units upstairs and spaces for retail businesses or restaurants on the first floor. 

To enhance the Zone of Confluence, a project that began in 2013, and take advantage of underused buildings in downtown Grinnell for what John Kalkbrenner, assistant vice president for auxiliary services and economic development, describes as “college or community needs,” the College purchased several buildings in 2016, including 1021 Main Street. The building was demolished, and in fall 2017, the College issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to real estate development companies.   

“After considerable analysis, it was determined that the building could not be reused. In summer of 2017 the College prepared the site for a use that could better serve community needs,” Kalkbrenner said. “The RFP basically says, ‘we have a property where we think an interesting building could be constructed — send us your ideas for a project.’ The RFP included some general interest in exploring residential and retail that would enhance, and not compete with, existing downtown establishments.” 

Of the plans submitted, a selection committee comprised of College staff, trustees and representatives from local businesses and local government chose the Grinnell Promenade project, a proposal from William J. Ludwig & Associates, LTD. and Brower Real Estate Services. The idea is that the apartments, once construction is complete, will be available for rent by both students and community members. 

To gauge interest from students, the developers, William Ludwig and Stephen Brower met with Sarah Moschenross, dean of students. Moschenross then set up a focus group of students who have been approved to live off-campus for the 2018-19 school year to meet with the developers and set apartment design plans. 

Still in the planning stage, the project has not yet been approved by the city or finalized by the College. 

“I would caution to say, this isn’t a done deal. There are still several hurdles for them to get over with the city … but I think they feel enthusiastic about the possibility of putting this together for students,” Moschenross said.   

The focus group, held on Wednesday, April 11, heard from eight students, as well as staff in the Division of Student Affairs, the Office of Community Enhancement and Engagement and the Office of Auxiliary Services and Economic Development. 

While community enhancement and engagement and auxiliary services and economic development have been highly involved in the planning process, student affairs and in turn residence life came into the process solely to offer perspective on student living. If the plan is finalized, residence life will not have domain over the residences.

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