MUSCATINE, Iowa–As interest in revitalizing downtown Muscatine grows, with new businesses opening and occupying storefronts, the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine took a large step towards building on this momentum. Aug. 2, they announced their intent to purchase 215 West Mississippi Drive in Muscatine and to convert it into both their headquarters and suite of community resources.
Built in 1848, 215 West Mississippi Drive started out as an oatmeal factory, before later owners converted it to a produce processing plant, button factory, and tool company. After falling into disrepair, Tom and Ann Meeker purchased the property and revived it: “Tom and Ann Meeker brought an eyesore of building back to life in the early 2000s. We are thankful for their vision for our community in pouring love back into this prominent site,” stated Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine Executive Director Charla Schafer.
For several years, the Button Factory restaurant operated in the space before closing in 2014. Since then, Muscatine Community College has used the commercial kitchen in the building to train culinary students, though much of the building has remained unused.
Wanting to reinvigorate it once again and to open it up to the community, the Community Foundation decided to make it their permanent home as well as to repurpose some of its vacant spaces for new ends. “As we evaluated a long-term option for our office, we felt the opportunity to re-enliven this underutilized, historic space in the heart of our community aligned with our core values, customer needs, collaborative convening, and civic commitment,” explained Schafer.
On the first floor of the new space, the Community Foundation will place its offices. They will continue to allow Muscatine Community College to use the commercial kitchen, and possibly make it available to potential business owners who want to experiment with restaurant ideas of their own. Additionally, they hope to rehabilitate the existing board room, dining room, and porch into additional gathering spaces for organizations to use as meeting spaces. Upstairs, the Community foundation will have a meeting space for 100, suitable for large gatherings and events held among collaborating organizations as well as office spaces, which could include co-working spaces.
By November of this year, the Community Foundation hopes to have moved into their new offices. In the months following, they will completely finalize the building’s purchase and start opening additional spaces to the community. “We want to utilize the building as a community-centric, collaborative home filling many different gaps, while inspiring an old building back to full life,” Schafer emphasized. “Our plans will be phased in, so they are set to be flexible, as we recognize opportunities for utilization may change.”
As the Community Foundation starts the process of rehabilitating 215 West Mississippi Drive, Schafer most looks forward to, “reactivating a historic building in the heart of our community.” Once the Community Foundation begins the process of transitioning to their new space, they hope to cause as few disruptions to the people and groups they work with while bringing new opportunities online. Schafer assured, “we will work hard to ensure our customers have a seamless experience as we transition offices.”