Showcasing success

Marshalltown and State Center accomplishments on display

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY Marshalltown Central Business District Director Jenny Etter gestures while explaining features of Dan and Laura Kester’s property in downtown Marshalltown on Tuesday. Etter and other community leaders hosted an Iowa Rural Development Council fact-finding tour which viewed Marshall County rural housing projects.

Leaders from Marshalltown development groups and the State Center Development Association have heard the accolades from local residents making their communities better places to live.

On Tuesday, praise came from peers — specifically 48 housing developers and state officials from the Missouri to the Mississippi.

Jim Thompson of the Iowa Economic Development Authority was ebullient in describing to the developers two Marshalltown examples — the Kibbey Lofts above the Kibbey Building and a neighboring building owned and occupied by Dan and Laura Kester, whose residence is on the second floor.

The Kibbey and Kester building are in the 100 block of East Main Street.

“The key to this (community housing success) is owner-occupied,” said Thompson. “The other key is standing on a street or driving by … one would never know they (housing units) existed. They are secrets that can happen in all towns if there is enough owner-reinvestment. Owner-occupied spaces … all top of the line. Is there anyone here who would not want to move in here (Kester living area)?”

Next was a tour of the Kibbey lofts, owned and managed by Barb Hagstrand of Marshalltown and partner Jeff Mitchell of Cedar Rapids.

The two showcased their four spacious lofts on the second floor of the historic Kibbey Building.

All are occupied.

“The attendees were key decision makers from Iowa’s smaller communities who spent an hour and a half in Marshall County … in Marshalltown and State Center … looking at a variety of projects including downtown development, senior housing, multifamily and single family units,” said MED President Tom Deimerly.

Joining Deimerly was Central Business District Director Jenny Etter, Hagstrand and Mitchell.

Tour coordinator and former USDA official Bill Menner added more.

“These units will demonstrate to these rural leaders innovative approaches to housing in smaller towns,” he said.

A tour of the Kibbey building several years ago would have been unheard of.

It was next to the former 135 E. Main St., itself

a 100-year old historic property which once housed the Marshalltown Business College, later, KFJB-AM, and finally, a street-level grocery store and other businesses.

It was completely destroyed in a fire set by an arsonist in February, 2012.

The damage included a a gaping hole in the Kibbey Building’s east wall.

Later, Hagstrand and Mitchell purchased the Kibbey Building and went to work … a solid two years worth.

The two combined personal funds with state and federal grants as part of an ongoing effort to rehabilitate the historic property. The project received nearly $1.2 million in grant money from the Iowa Economic Development Authority in 2015. Hagstrand and Mitchell also accessed the Marshalltown Main Street’s Facade program. Other funds were used to convert the second floor of the building to apartment lofts. The first floor will soon be converted business space. Total project costs were approximately $3 million.

Before departing, the attendees took in the Kibbey Lofts’ Water Garden, with rows and rows of green plants adorning the Kibbey Building’s east wall just below a giant metal butterfly.

Storm water is collected in cisterns underneath an adjoining parking lot and then recycled to the east wall.

“Marshalltown is doing great projects,” said Thompson.

“To have Marshalltown and State Center’s housing efforts highlighted as some of the trip’s anchors is a nice honor for all,” said Deimerly.


Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or