Dozens attend Gallery Garden ribbon-cutting

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY 
Smiles and cheers abounded from Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors and others Thursday after a red ribbon was cut by Gallery Garden co-owners Jeff Mitchell (holding scissors) and Barb Hagstrand, standing to Mitchell’s right. Situated next to the Kibbey Building, a water garden, with rows and rows of green plants adorn the building’s east wall just below a giant metal butterfly.

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY Smiles and cheers abounded from Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors and others Thursday after a red ribbon was cut by Gallery Garden co-owners Jeff Mitchell (holding scissors) and Barb Hagstrand, standing to Mitchell’s right. Situated next to the Kibbey Building, a water garden, with rows and rows of green plants adorn the building’s east wall just below a giant metal butterfly.

The Gallery Garden — Marshalltown’s newest attraction — received a grand welcome from Marshalltown Mayor Jim Lowrance, state officials, and others Thursday.

Under a bright and warm Indian Summer sun, visitors packed the area in the shadow of the historic Kibbey Building.

“This (Gallery Garden) has to be one of the most talked about projects in a long time,” said Lowrance. “Regardless of where one was, you would hear questions, “what is going on at the intersection of 2nd Avenue and East Main Street?’ ”

Lowrance also said what was on other people’s minds, that the significant investment of private capital and grants will induce other investment into the area.

A seven-foot tall, four-foot wide steel butterfly which sits high on the Kibbey Building wall overlooks the Gallery Garden, “symbolizes the metamorphosis of the Kibbey Building and Gallery Garden,” according to a site promotional piece.

Indeed, what was once a pile of rubble after an arsonist-induced fire collapsed a three-story building more than five and one-half years ago, has been transformed to a comfortable and enviro-friendly setting where one can read a book, visit with friends, or have a cup of coffee, while listening to the calming effects of a nearby fountain.

Fittingly, the Gallery Garden is surrounded by the Tallcorn Towers and Marshalltown Senior Residences (formerly Iowa Wholesale Building) — two major downtown development projects which, with the Kibbey Building/Gallery Garden, have helped dramatically re-shape East Main Street’s appearance.

The Kibbey Building’s east wall is an attention-getter.

Plants were placed vertically and are irrigated with storm water from the roof. Storm water is collected in cisterns underneath an adjoining parking lot and then recycled to the east wall.

The Gallery Garden construction, and significant rehabilitation of the Kibbey Building is a $3 million dollar investment, according to figures released by state and local officials.

Hagstrand, of Marshalltown, and co-owner Jeff Mitchell of Cedar Rapids, melded personal funds with state and federal grants to complete the projects. They were assisted by nearly $1.2 million in grant money from the Iowa Economic Development Authority in 2015. Hagstrand has also accessed the Marshalltown Main Street’s Facade program and others.

The next challenge for Hagstrand and Mitchell is to finish work on the Kibbey Building’s ground floor.

“When we finish we will have another ribbon cutting,” Hagstrand said.

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Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com