Lansing City Council votes to solicit proposals for Old Stone School renovation through IEDA funding

by Julie Berg-Raymond

The Lansing City Council voted Monday night, November 1 to approve sending out Requests for Proposals to renovate the historic Lansing Stone School into apartment units, using an Iowa Economic Development Association (IEDA) downtown housing grant.

The vote followed Main Street Executive Director Andy Kelleher’s presentation about the grant opportunity to the council during its previous regular meeting Monday, October 18. The grant would provide up to $300,000 in funding if awarded. In that earlier presentation, Kelleher noted the grant program is “designed to create new housing opportunities in communities with populations under 30,000.” The program explicitly states that funding can be utilized for vacant school buildings within the downtown vicinity. Councilperson Mike Manning asked Kelleher whether the middle school building could also be considered for this grant program, but Keller said that building is too far from downtown and is not within Main Street Lansing program boundaries.

Kelleher said two types of proposals are being encouraged for the project: a total conversion to housing (“likely having eight units”) or an upper-story housing project with a community space on the ground floor. He noted that grant funding, though, can only be used for housing-related expenses. The grant requires a 25 percent match ($75,000 for a fully funded $300,000 grant) - which could be provided by either the developer or the City. “Any such decision would be a part of the developer agreement with the City of Lansing,” Kelleher said.

Proposals are due by Monday, December 6 at 4 p.m. Negotiations with the developer would take place in December 2021. If the City then chose to apply for the Downtown Housing Grant, the grant application would be due Monday, January 31, 2022; the grant awards will be announced Wednesday, March 23, 2022. The project would have to be completed within two years of receiving the award.

Mayor Melissa Hammell will attend a Hazardous Material Tabletop Exercise Tuesday, November 16 in Waukon. The exercise will cover accident protocols and procedures, and will run from 6 to 9 p.m. Councilperson Curtis Snitker said he also planned to attend. In other business, the council voted to approve health insurance renewal with Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa.

Before concluding its regular meeting, the council moved into closed session with City Attorney John Anderson to discuss and consider possible action on the garage building permit at 301 Center Street. Upon conclusion of the closed session and entering back into the open meeting, a motion was made and carried to reinstate the building permit that had previously been denied at that property. The vote was split by a 3-2 margin, with council members Justin Shepard, Bruce Revoir and Mike Manning voting yes and council members Deb Volker and Curtis Snitker each voting no. Additional coverage of the Lansing City Council’s November 1 meeting will be included in the November 10 edition of The Standard. The next regular meeting of the Lansing City Council is scheduled for Monday, November 15 at 7 p.m. at Lansing City Hall.