News Column

Fort Madison Moving Forward with Arts Center Concept

June 17, 2014

By Sarah Tomkinson, The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa

June 17--FORT MADISON -- The Fort Madison City Council will discuss the future of the former Fort Madison Middle School auditorium tonight.

On today's meeting agenda, the council is scheduled to vote on a deal with developer Todd Schneider for the city to use the auditorium as a performing arts center.

Schneider, in return, will receive a tax increment financing rebate estimated at about $30,000 for up to 10 years. Schneider said he and the city have not confirmed any numbers on the TIF.

"I know seven-year and 10-year TIFS have been thrown out there, but nothing has been confirmed," he said.

Schneider and Mayor Brad Randolph met privately Monday to discuss the TIF rebate.

Randolph hopes the city will take advantage of the space.

"We need to recognize we would have a performing arts center or large seating venue we wouldn't have access to otherwise," he said.

Schneider is turning the former school at Avenue G and 18th Street into a 36-unit apartment complex. When he purchased the school from the school district, he proposed the city keep the auditorium and use it for entertainment purposes.

The developer said the auditorium space could be converted into six apartments if the city passes on the agreement. TIF funds would be a reimbursement for the money Schneider would have received if the space did become apartments.

If the city decides to use the auditorium, it will pay to renovate the space. It could cost more than $3 million, but the city could receive up to $1.6 million in state and federal historic tax credits to offset the cost.

The city is in talks with potential renters of the auditorium space, such as West Burlington-based Southeastern Community College and the Fort Madison School District.

Last year, Schneider received a $2.9 million federal Community Development Block Grant to turn the middle school into an affordable housing complex. He plans to make the apartments the first solar power living complex in Iowa.

The Fort Madison City Council will meet at 7 p.m. at city hall.


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Source: Hawk Eye, The (Burlington, IA)

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