Big piles of dirt and an assortment of construction vehicles are signs that work is underway on a series of townhomes in Fort Dodge, some of which are expected to be ready for their occupants next spring.
That progress was celebrated Wednesday afternoon by the developers, local government officials and representatives of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance who gathered at the site on the city's west side with golden-colored shovels for a groundbreaking ceremony.
''This is what can happen when we all come together and work together,'' said Jim Kesterson, the Fort Dodge man who is one of the leading investors in the project.
-Messenger photos by Hans Madsen
Nathan Peterson, of Harcourt, with Wiseman Construction, digs a trench under the footings to allow the main water supply to enter one of the new townhomes under construction at Second Avenue South and A Street. The small square area to his left will become the front deck.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Jose Henriquiz, with Nielsen Concrete of Ames works on getting the forms for foundation footings ready Wednesday afternoon at the new townhomes at Second Avenue South and A Street.
Jim Kesterson, one of the leading investors in a new Fort Dodge townhouse project, speaks during a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday afternoon.
The project, introduced by a different developer earlier this year under the name Windstone Circle, will include 24 townhomes in 12 duplex buildings. They will be in an area bordered by A Street, Second Avenue South and U.S. Highway 169.
Each townhome will have two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a two-car garage.
Kesterson said a neighborhood association will be created to handle the yard work and snow removal for all the townhomes.
The first six buildings are to be done next spring. The foundations for four of them are completed, and crews are working on the foundations for the other two.
''It's going great,'' said Eldon Rossow, the Fort Dodge man who owns the property and is the other leading investor in the project.
Kesterson said all the investors and contractors involved in the project are from Fort Dodge or the surrounding area.
In addition to Kesterson and Rossow, the other investors are Tim Burns, Steve Daniel, Dale Decker, Don Decker, Webster County Supervisor Keith Dencklau and his wife, Linda, and Scott McQueen.
Wiseman Construction is the general contractor on the project.
The subcontractors are Bianchi Heating & Cooling Inc., Gehlhausen Construction, Gudmonson Service, Jim's Floor Covering, Joe Harvey Construction, North Iowa Electric LLC, Riley-Armstrong Plumbing & Heating and Whitts Plumbing & Heating.
Earlier this year, the City Council voted to use tax increment financing to pay for a sanitary sewer main to serve the townhomes. The city will spend up to $150,000 from the increased property tax revenue expected from the townhomes to reimburse the developer for the sewer costs.
During the groundbreaking event, Councilman Mark Taylor said he's pleased that the townhomes will be on the west side of town, which he represents.
''This is the direction that maybe the city should expand to,'' he said. ''There's lots of open land over here.''
The townhome construction is occurring at a time when a fresh emphasis is being placed on the creation of new housing in Fort Dodge to accommodate people moving to the city for the hundreds of new jobs being created by new and existing businesses.
Dennis Plautz, the chief executive officer of the Growth Alliance, said Wednesday that housing is one of the biggest needs in the community now.