Govenor Vilsack to Tour Historic Van Allen Building undergoing renovation in Clinton, Iowa

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Note: this article appeared in the The Clinton Herald, article by Jason Liegois.
Although he'll be in the middle of a tight campaign race by the time he visits Clinton on Oct. 21, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack will be concentrating more on economic development than politics.
In an event that morning that will not be open to the public, Vilsack will tour the reconstruction project at the Sullivan Building, also known as the Van Allen Building, at the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue South and Second Street. It is the former home of the Van Allen & Sons Department Store.
Developers for the project say the event will be a "mid-construction" tour to show the governor what progress has been made there.
Steve Bamman, director of the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce's Downtown Partnership, said the project was one of the most important historical renovation projects in the state.
"It's a very visible project ... the building has been empty for 10 years. It's a real success story for the community," Bamman said.
Among the guests at the event will be Clinton Mayor LaMetta Wynn, Mary Jane Case, granddaughter of Van Allen co-founder John. D. Van Allen, and Elizabeth Van Allen, wife of the store's last president, John V. Van Allen.
Built between 1913 and 1915, the building is known as the Sullivan Building and was named after its architect, Louis B. Sullivan. Sullivan was famous for his work at the turn of the 20th century and is especially credited for the popularization of skyscrapers.
The city purchased the vacant property in 1990 and tried for years to find a new tenant for the building. It finally signed a development agreement with developers Heartland Properties and Community Housing Initiatives in late 2000. Renovation work on the building began this spring.
The planned renovation is a $2 million-plus project designed to turn the former department store into commercial and residential use. It will create 19 apartment homes and 6,000 square feet of retail space.
The first floor will be designated for commercial use, while the remaining upper floors will be made into residential apartments available at affordable rates. It is being funded through a combination of private investments and state grants.
Dean Baumgardner, vice president of Heartland, said Vilsack has long had an interest in the project in discussions.
"He's been following this project ever since it first started," Baumgardner said.
He also noted that a crucial piece of the project's funding was a grant for historical renovation tax credits. Vilsack pushed for the creation of the program after he became governor in 1999.

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