Green light for former Sears

The process of turning a downtown Fort Dodge landmark best known as the Sears building into apartments has finally started.

”Yes, we have started construction,” said Jim Danaher, president of CBC Financial in Fairfield. That company, doing business as Heartland Senior Housing, owns the building.

”We plan to be through with construction in the fall of 2014,” he added.

Danaher said 48 apartments for senior citizens will be created in the building.

The project was first announced in January 2012.

The eight-story building was constructed in 1916 to house Prusia Hardware. It was the site of the local Sears, Roebuck & Co. store from 1936 to 1964. Recently, the structure at 610 Central Ave. has been mostly vacant.

The renovation project is a $5,073,000 investment, according to Fort Dodge city building permit information.

Koester Construction Inc., of Grimes, is the general contractor.

The 48 apartments will include one- and two-bedroom units. Community rooms, an exercise facility and a library are also planned.

The construction project that’s underway is the second attempt to turn the building into apartments. The first attempt was announced in 2010 by Cohen-Esrey Affordable Partners of Overland Park, Kan. However, that effort was unsuccessful.