Downtown Iowa City building gets facelift, new tenant

Grossix Building will house shop, apartments

Published: December 18 2013 | 6:00 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 12:59 am in
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A sportswear shop is slated to fill a vacant storefront in a historic building in downtown Iowa City.

Tailgate Clothing Co. will take possession of the first floor of 30 S. Clinton St. on Feb. 1. The space is part of the Grossix Building, which housed Gilda Imports for nearly 30 years.

Last year the storefront was the site of a temporary “pop-up” holiday shop run by Iowa City business owner Catherine Champion.

Tailgate offers “vintage design” clothes featuring Hawkeye and other team logos. Tom and Dennis Snyder of Ames started the company in 1997. It’s design studio is located in New York.

Vera Gross, owner of the Grossix Building, recently completed an estimated $750,000 renovation of the 1860s building. Beyond the first floor retail space, the three-story building houses two apartments, one on each of the upper levels.

Those upper levels used to be storage space.

“I still cannot believe how much it's changed,” said Gross, looking around the apartments at a Monday open house to unveil the updates .

Her mother had owned Gilda Imports. Gross lives in Knoxville, Tenn., but has been traveling back to Iowa City to oversee the renovation.

The project is part of an effort to revitalize many of the downtown district’s older buildings. Though retail space is in high demand, a lot of second and third floors spaces are under-utilized, according to Nancy Bird, executive director of the Iowa City Downtown District.

The city awarded funding to eight Iowa City businesses to help with renovations this year. The Grossix Building project received about $37,000 from the city, Gross said. The city grant paid for 30 percent of the cost of installing a sprinkler system and 30 percent of the cost of facade improvements.

Other grant recipients are Bo James, 118 E. Washington St.; Atlas Restaurant, 127 Iowa Ave.; Quinton's, 215 East Washington St.; Panchero's Mexican Grill, 32 S. Clinton St.; Chait Galleries, 218 E. Washington St.; Active Endeavors, 138 S. Clinton St.; and Yacht Club, 13 S. Linn St.

The Grossix Building renovations include all new plumbing throughout the building, a new staircase system, a redesigned outer facade on the building, a sprinkler system and other updates. The upper apartment features access to a new rooftop balcony overlooking the Pentacrest.

The apartments include elements such as exposed brick throughout the building and the use of original hand-hewn timber from the building.

“There’s a lot of cool history in this building,” Gross said. “We tried to preserve that.”

The apartments are one bedroom each, and Gross said she expects them to rent for around $3,000 a month, though she has not found tenants yet.

Tailgate will finish the renovations of the first floor and is expected to open in the spring of 2014.

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