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Masonic Building project moves forward

If the Casino referendum passes Nov. 2, Osceola Chamber Main Street is hopeful it’’ll be able to get started with the $1.4 million Old Masonic Building renovation project, as soon as Nov. 3. The goal of the project is to save the historic structure and turn the second and third floors into six “luxury” apartments and retail office space.

The Clarke County Development Corporation has agreed to co-sign a loan note for $1.16 million, contingent on the referendum passing. According to Chamber Main Street Board President Steve Weers the banks want a guarantor on the loan since Chamber Main Street is a non-profit. Chamber Main Street is currently working with American State Bank, Clarke County Bank and Great Western Bank.

In August 2010, Chamber Main Street learned the project had been approved for a $625,000 I-JOBs grant for the proposed project. One of the requirements, however, is that they have the project completed within a year and a half of when they sign their grant contract. The hope is to have the project completed by November 2011.

“Koester Construction is very confident they’ll be able to meet that time frame,” said Weers.

Koester is the general contractor for the project and architectural work is being completed by Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck (HLKB) of Des Moines.

According to Weers, HLKB rebuilt a Stuart church severely damaged in a fire. Weers said he was amazed at the quality of restoration work the firm did.

“It really made me a believer,” he said. “They’ve got a wealth of knowledge, and they’ve proven themselves in the past to be successful in their projects.”

According to the firm’s website they’ve been recognized as as one of the top 10 restoration architects in the U.S. by “This Old House.”

For more on this story see the Oct. 28 edition of the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune.