Nevada's iconic Tipton's building receives $100K revitalization grant
A locally beloved building in downtown Nevada will get extensive second-story remodel after receiving a $100,000 grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
The funding is for an area officially called the S.E. Briggs Block, but many locals know it as the former Tipton’s building.
“It’s the corner building with the big turret and spire,” Henry Corbin, executive director of Nevada Main Street, said.
Building owners Jon Augustus and Al and Kathy Kockler are renovating the second story of the building to have four apartments. The tentative configuration is for three two-bedroom residences and one one-bedroom.
“What’s really cool about this project is that space has been vacant for decades,” Corbin said. “This project is really bringing back a space that has been underutilized in the past, and it’s a kickstart of the effort downtown of upstairs living. It’s pretty exciting.”
Augustus and the Kocklers were enthusiastic about helping start a movement to develop more downtown residences. Having residents is a critical part of a Main Street atmosphere, Corbin said.
“When these downtowns were created, that was such an integral part of it — the people who shop here but also the people who live here,” Corbin said. “It was always a mix.
“It’s so important to the life of the downtown to have people living here. It adds that element of a different type of life going on down here.”
There are already some apartments in Nevada’s downtown, he said. The $533,000 project will return the second story to its past use.
“There are still people here in the community who remember visiting family there, looking out the windows, seeing the cars and people below,” Corbin said.
He said the project is important to revitalizing downtown Nevada as a place to live.
“We want our downtown to be a place where people want to spend time, where people want to live,” Corbin said. “This is that first step of showing tangibly that these underutilized spaces can be enjoyed and appreciated by others.”
Tipton's Drug Store has iconic architecture, fosters special memories
The fact that this project involves such an iconic Nevada building is bound to generate interest and energy, he said.
“The building is kind of the identity of downtown,” Corbin said. “When people think of downtown Nevada, that spire comes to mind. We’ve had people tell us: As we grew up, that was the place you met your friends — right underneath that spire.
“It’s cool that that center of the community is also going to be the center of this effort. It’s just the beginning of what we hope to do.”
Tipton’s Pharmacy was in the space for more than 50 years, Corbin said, and was a pharmacy before that as well.
“The building has spent most of its life — well over 100 years — as a pharmacy. People remember going in there to the soda fountain.”
Lunar Parlor tattoo parlor is on the ground level, and Augustus and Kockler have an office in the other half of the first floor.
“The first floor has always been occupied, but the upstairs has been vacant and dormant for a very long time,” Corbin said. “It’s fun to think about the fact that it’s going to have life and have people enjoying it and using it for what it was built for.”
Goal of making downtown Nevada a vibrant place to live
“Our goal is a downtown for the first level with all the businesses but also a downtown on the second level with all the upper story living,” Augustus said.
Timing of the project is still tentative.
It was the second year the building owners had applied for the IEDA’s Community Catalyst grant, and they were turned down the first time, Augustus said.
“We really took our feedback and put the best effort that we possibly could into the second application,” he said. “We were extremely happy we were awarded it a second time around.”
Nevada is one of 26 Iowa communities that are each receiving a $100,000 Community Catalyst grant, which are intended to help revitalize downtown districts and were awarded through the IEDA’s Community Catalyst Building Remediation program.
“Downtown districts are the heart and soul of our communities, and their strength is critical to the state’s overall well-being,” IEDA and Iowa Finance Authority Executive Director Debi Durham said in a news release. “The Community Catalyst program not only helps strengthen our downtowns at a critical time of economic recovery, it also inspires growth and development for years to come.”
With a population of 6,754, Nevada was one of the more populous towns on the awards list, as at least 40% of the grants went to cities with fewer than 1,500 people, in accordance with the rules of the program, the release stated.
The projects’ impact, the funding and partnerships in place, and the use of sustainable, smart-growth principles were factors taken into consideration by the IEDA while scoring the projects.
Cities are required to provide financial or in-kind matches to supplement the project, and in Nevada’s case, the local match is $433,000.