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New recreation center eyed for downtown

Former Fareway site purchased for $425K

January 30, 2012
Messenger News


Messenger staff writer

Fort Dodge residents may be able to work out in a new recreation center a few years from now.

The first phase of the project is underway with the selection of a site in downtown Fort Dodge.

The concept was introduced publicly during a December meeting of the city's downtown Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District.

Proponents envision an 80,000 to 95,000-square-foot structure loaded with such amenities as multiple swimming areas and several basketball and volleyball courts.

The price tag for the facility os estimated to be from $20 million to $30 million.

''If and when we are able to put together a new recreation center for the community, we want it to be downtown,'' Jim Bird, the vice president of the district's board, said during that meeting.

The former Fareway supermarket was purchased by the Fort Dodge Community Recreation Center for $425,000 from Kin Properties Inc., a commercial real estate investment company based in Boca Raton, Fla.

The proposed facility would replace the Fort Dodge Community Recreation Center at 1422 First Ave. S., according to Dennis Plautz, the city's director of business affairs and community growth.

''It would be very similar to what people think of as a traditional YMCA with workout rooms and running tracks,'' he said.

He said a committee has been working on the concept for almost two years.

Members of the recreation center planning committee have committed themselves to the challenge of raising funds, said committee member Neven Mulholland.

Mulholland said that the necessary money will have to come through a broad-reaching partnership between local businesses and institutions like Trinity Regional Medical Center and Iowa Central Community College.

Preliminary plans call for the center to contain:

Though architectural plans for the facility will not be developed for some time, the overall vision is for a facility that would be widely visible when entering the downtown area, said Randy Kuhlman, president of the Fort Dodge Community Recreation Center's board of directors.

Acquiring the property is phase one of the effort, according to Kuhlman.

The next phase will involve setting up a capital campaign with a goal of raising $1.5 million, as well as pursuing grants and tax credits.

If fundraising is successful, an architect will be retained and the building design process will begin, Kuhlman said.

No formal timeline has yet been developed.

An early objective of the planning committee, which began meeting in the spring of 2009, was to begin working to develop partnerships, Kuhlman said.

The plan calls for using private charitable dollars, grants from the state and federal government and private foundations and new market tax credits, a federal program, which provides tax credit incentives for investment to certified Community Development Entities.

The SSMID board voted to contribute $5,000 to help pay for a planning study related to the center. That study is estimated to cost $30,000.

Bird said the study is based on the feasibility of locating the center downtown.

He added that Iowa Central Community College, the community recreation center, Friendship Haven and Trinity Regional Medical Center will also help pay for the study.

The Self Supported Municipal Improvement District is a roughly 33-block area in which property owners pay an extra tax to help finance improvements there.

Contact Bill Shea at (515) 573-2141 or



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