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Hobart remains interested in Iowa Juvenile Home property–

Issues Ultimatum To City On Deal

July 18, 2018
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

BJ Hobart, co-owner of Hobart Historical Restoration, the Cedar Rapids Company currently converting the former Otterbein Church in downtown Toledo into apartments, says her company remains interested in the Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls property here.

"We've invested a great deal of time and resources in this project because we think it has great potential," BJ Hobart wrote in a letter dated June 29, to Toledo Mayor John Lloyd.

But she also warns: "We aren't going to spend any more on this project unless Toledo is willing to step up and truly invest in this project as well. Transferring four acres and awarding tax abatement isn't enough," Hobart wrote.

Article Photos

Aerial view of Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls campus in Toledo, Iowa.
Google photo

Mayor Lloyd told The Chronicle he anticipates including the Hobart-IJH proposal on the July 23 city council agenda for a response.

The Hobart Company made a proposal in November, 2017, to reuse the IJH property for senior citizen, apartment, family and multi-family housing, an assisted living facility and a park.

Some terms of the proposed deal are the sale of the state-owned 27-acre property to the company and an adjacent four-acre housing tract owned by the city each for a dollar.

Jim Hobart, also a co-owner of Hobart Restoration, has told the council it's a "deal-breaker" for the entire project if the city property transfer is not part of the plan.

In the Hobart letter to Lloyd, a three phase renovation of the property at a cost running in the millions of dollars is outlined.

The city council has indicated to Hobart it is not willing to enter into an Iowa Finance Authority loan agreement because of the city's insufficient debt capacity. In addition, city officials have said they would only consider tax abatements and not tax increment financing for the project.

Other conditions include Hobart receiving $4 million in state incentives along with the City of Toledo backing an Iowa Finance Authority loan.

Along with attempting to secure backing from the City of Toledo, Hobart has sought to have the Region 6 Housing Trust commit to being the go-through recipient of the Juvenile Home property in a transfer from State of Iowa to the Hobart company.

Marty Wymore, Region 6 Planning Commission executive director, told The Chronicle last week, "We have not had any further discussions about the project. One of the first steps is receiving funding from the State of Iowa for the conversion. Until that happens, the project is on hold from our end."

Earlier this year council members said they were leaning toward a gift of the four acres of city-owned property to Hobart if a firm time line on the project is established and after some progress in actual work was evident on the IJH property itself.

Shut Down in 2014

The Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls was ordered closed in January, 2014, by then Governor Terry Branstad and Charles Palmer the Department of Human Services Director at the time. Students were transferred to otter sites, osem out-of-state and 93 employees lost their jobs.

It has sat idle since although many of the interior furnishings were distributed to other state agencies and through an internet sale which was not publicized in this area.

In April, Western and Leander Clark colleges and IJH artifacts were returned to the community by the Department of Human Services and placed in the custody of the Tama County Historical Society.

The Iowa Juvenile Home opened in Toledo in 1920 on the former campus of Leander Clark College.

The Western- Leander Clark bell continues to stand on the ground on South Church Street in Toledo.



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