The decision by the Estherville Industrial Development Corporation to buy the former Sievert's showed reverence for our past and with a vision for the future.
EIDC president Lyle Hevern, lamenting the loss of the old railroad depot, Elks and Grand Theatre buildings, said at the Estherville Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting Tuesday night the building restoration would be a project with multiple partners - all with a common goal of helping downtown Estherville. "The heart and soul of a community is its central business district," said Hevern.
Few communities have anything remotely resembling the beauty of Library Square. It is an absolute treasure, worthy of a place of honor in any city. What the purchase of the former J.C. Penney's building does is offer a way for that beauty to radiate from Library Square - much like the spokes of a wheel.
South Sixth Street business owners - on their own - have created a unique, beautiful retail street that in itself attracts out-of-town visitors. By having control over the Penney's'/Sievert's building, the EIDC can help ensure the continued development of this incredibly historic area which includes the original location of Fort Defiance just a little over a block south of Central Avenue.
Daring? Yes. Risky? Possibly. But no step forward is without risk. And stepping forward is exactly what we have to do to succeed as a community.
The concept of using the second-story of the building as a business incubator - an idea promoted by the Iowa Lakes Corridor - is a great one as well. A good model could be the Phillips Avenue restoration project in Sioux Falls, S.D. when about 30 years ago a handful of businesses decided to save the original downtown business district. Today, all the buildings are full with luxury apartments on the upper levels.
Estherville is changing. Anyone who has lived here any period of time can see it.
So let's all get behind this project and push it forward.