Keokuk, Iowa continued…

     I have had lot of views but few comments on the other Keokuk pages that I wrote. Keokuk Country Club page was put on the FB page ‘Raised On The Urban Streets Of Keokuk’  and generated some comments there. 

 Some folks are pressing the idea that something can be done by the city of Keokuk or individuals, in helping keep Keokuk Country Club alive and kicking in its former glory. Suggestions included condos, retirement housing and low rate golf services for the city’s youth and students. All good ideas, but economically, not really feasible. I mean, if they were both good ideas and feasible, the place would have been sold, and the new owners would be pushing the site to attract consumers. It has been on the market for a year I do believe, and of course I have no clue if any offers have been made. And as far as the city of Keokuk ‘doing’ something with the property, well, they really have no say, as the city doesn’t own it as far as I know. Blaming the mayor, city council or Roquette for all of Keokuk’s problems is not really fair, but folks like to vent on the nearest available target. I will get to the individuals later…

     I recall when the Wells-Carey school in Keokuk was finally closed and left empty for a while, and then sold later on to an ‘outsider’. A lot of people were on FB saying how they went to school there, and it should be transformed  into some sort of unique attraction. A lot of the people claimed it was a piece of Keokuk history and should never be torn down. Well, everything in Keokuk is Keokuk history, and there comes a point were you just tear stuff down to make room for improvements. Unfortunately in Keokuk, it seems that when you tear something down, you are left with a vacant lot.

     The ideas thrown out there for the Wells-Carey building included  a bistro/cafe/restaurant, that offered courses on how to cook, with a different visiting chef every few weeks, or several chefs at the same time to offer different recipes on how to cook a meal. Another was condos or apartments, and another idea was to make it into an artists ‘colony’ with visiting artists coming to town and demonstrating their art and setting up a vendor stall to sell the art. All reasonable ideas, yet the town doesn’t seem capable of sustaining a venture like that, for example…

     Condos/apartments: Buy the property, get it rezoned, gut the interior, rebuild the interior as condos, follow all building and state and city codes, get insured, then after you have spent the better part of $400,000 to get it ready, try to rent the condos to make a profit. What is your rent price going to be after you are all done, $1200 a month, $1500 a month ? If you try to sell a 1 bedroom, 1 bath condo, at that location ( or the KCC for that matter) after all that work, it depends on how many condos you have. $150,000 ? $200,000 ? Is there a market ? Can you get a bank or financial institution to lend you the money ? How are they going to view your project ? Is it a risk ? In my opinion, it is a smarter move to just buy a lot and start from scratch. This is what I see happening wherever I have been. Maybe in NYC or Boston can you take an old warehouse and go that route. Keokuk, I don’t know…

      Having a chef’s or artists colony is a good idea also, but it begs the question, who is paying the artist and the chef and buying the building and on and on ? Do you think an artist is going to drive from Denver to Keokuk to display his works ? For free ? If he is a starving artist, maybe, but you better feed him, and house him, and for God sakes buy his art, or he or she, or anybody else, will not return. A chef ? Only if he is paid well to do a job he considers an art. And what about when you cannot convince an artist or chef to come to Keokuk ? Who pays the bills for an empty building ?

     For a financial institution to lend money for a project like KCC or Wells-Carey to make a successful business, the market seems to not be there. KCC closed in the first place for that very reason, loss of members and revenue. For an individual who bypasses the banks with his own capitol, those individuals are few and very far between… And the risk of investing your money in a risky venture is, well, risky.

     In the end, I have no answers, I am just a reality observer and I like to write down my observations. Some may not like my observations, some may like them. You are all welcome to comment below and I will approve all comments for viewing. Just keep it clean…

          On FB, one of the comments says that Lake Cooper Foundation is in charge of the old KCC, I am not sure if that is true. In my research just on the web, the foundations address is on Main St. and run by volunteers.  I may be wrong. Anyone who wants to clear that up is welcome to do so.

The Keokuk Union Depot is a great project, worthy of the ‘historic’ tag. I understand that the place has bookings all the time, I hope they continue. I also have seen the new housing on Main St. getting ready to open, and I hope they have much success. 

 The school I attended in Keokuk is no longer there. Two of the places I lived at in Keokuk are no longer there. The stores I liked to visit when I was kid are no longer there. The town I grew up in and enjoyed so much, is not the same town that is there now.

     Keokuk Country Club. What a lovely place it once was… I read the comments on the FB page and I am told it is a mess now… What a shame. 

     For another angle at desperate measures to save ‘historic’ Keokuk, see my blog here

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