Main Street in Keokuk gets a major investment from the city’s largest employer.
The company is giving back to provide a better downtown for residents in the city.
In April, Main Street Inc. Director Joyce Glasscock said there were 52 vacant buildings in a 12-block radius.
But, thanks to the efforts from Roquette America, seven buildings on 11th street were purchased from the Irvin family.
"Now we are talking about a $5 million project, which is a major investment in any community," Glasscock said.
Roquette said it wanted to give back and be a part of the rebuild downtown.
"Keokuk is the center hub for them from a commercial prospective," Melinda Boyer, Head of Human Resources said. "We want to enrich the vitality of this community for the betterment of the employees and their families and for the good of the company, all that wrapped up in one."
Glasscock said the company is looking to add more housing downtown and provide local entrepreneurs a chance to start up a new business.
"We hope this enhances the business mix we have here and not taking businesses away that are already in existing buildings," Glasscock said.
Main Street and Roquette are trying to preserve the heart and soul of the city.
"We don’t want the property to fall into other hands and fall into that group that becomes dilapidated over time," Boyer said.
The city hopes more development on the way.
City Administrator Cole O’Donnell hopes this creates a spark in future growth.
"Some other owners can say, ‘with this going on, I can invest money in my building now because it is vibrant and I can be more successful," O’Donnell said.
Glasscock said since 1986, there has been $67 million private funds have been invested in restoration projects.
Roquette said it has a committee working on the final plans before work can be started on 11th street.