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What's going up? Three Muscatine building projects will open by spring
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What's going up? Three Muscatine building projects will open by spring

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MUSCATINE — Three buildings are going up in Muscatine. Construction projects are underway on Park Avenue, 5th Street and Blaine Street that will soon open.

Taco John’s, located on Park Avenue near McDonald's and Pizza Hut, will open Feb. 20.

“We’ve had one on Grandview that’s been there for quite a while,” said Brandon Rudkin, district manager of Pentex, the franchisee of Taco John’s in Iowa and Wisconsin. “(Pentex) took that one over in 2015 with a plan to relocate up here to where everyone else is."

There's not a lot of open real estate in the Park Avenue area, so Pentex bought the former Long John Silver’s site.

“This was the best A-location that we saw in the area, and thought we’d bring ourselves over here closer to all out fellow competitors.”

Taco John’s on Grandview will close Feb. 15. Rudkin said they expect 95% retention rate of employees, who will move to the new location.

“They’ve been waiting for a new building like this for a while," he said.

They tore down the former Long John Silver's and used a new prototype building design for the new restaurant. Only two other Taco John’s have used this design — one in Wisconsin and one in South Dakota.

“It was one of the benefits of starting from scratch,” Rudkin said. He praised Chad Kelley of Kelley Construction, saying that he and the crew on this project really worked hard.

“Everybody’s been keeping on schedule and moving along pretty smoothly. We’re in the final stages right now,” Kelley said, “It’s been a good project.”

Oak Park Senior Living

Oak Park Senior Living, an affordable housing complex for seniors ages 55 or older. This project began construction in March 2019, and is expected to have 16 buildings housing 48 two-bedroom apartments, communal clubhouse, fitness center and library and plenty of outdoor space.

Chris Ales of Ales P.C. is developing this project along with Iceberg Development as the lead developer and MCC Development as the co-developer.

“I’m from Muscatine to begin with, and I’ve always stayed in touch with folks in Muscatine,” Ales said, who also developed Cottage Grove and Welch Apartments. “Realizing and recognizing there was demand for another project, we started looking and working with Mark Lofgren.”

After finding the Oak Park site and putting their application and financing together, they then worked with the city to make these new apartments a reality. With more of a likelihood that the project would be approved thank to his recent track record with the Iowa Finance Authority, Ales let Jim Bergman of Iceberg Development onto the project while he stayed on as a consultant.

“I just kind of put my own best interests aside and put the project’s best interests first,” Ales said. “It was a pleasure to work with the City of Muscatine — to come back home and work on another project.”

Some buildings should be ready for occupancy by March, and the entire project is expected to be complete by summer. Oak Park will start accepting applications from residents once those dates are firmed up.

Ales is working to secure control of another site that would be developed as an affordable housing project for families to compliment the housing at Cottage Grove, Oak Park and the Welch’s.

“There continues to be a demand for affordable housing for young families in Muscatine," Ales said.

County building

On 5th Street next to the Public Safety Building, construction of a new county maintenance and Search & Rescue building is underway.  Muscatine Board of Supervisors approved the project as part of Capital Projects planning.

“With the current set-up, the Muscatine County Maintenance general services staff are working out of several different buildings, which is pretty inefficient,” explained Administrative Services Director Nancy Schreiber, “So this building will consolidate all of that into one area.”

Search & Rescue has a building, but it is “less than ideal” and located in a flood plain.

“Since we’re already putting up a new building, the decision was made to include space for Search & Rescue’s vehicles and boats,” Schreiber said.

This new location would also give the team easy access to the Mississippi River, the primary setting for most of their work.

It is expected to be finished by April 1.

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