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Restoration efforts underway at Midtown Building

Steady work is continuing at the former Hotel Maytag in effort to get the building ready for redevelopment. The City of Newton purchased the former downtown jewel in September with plans to preserve the commercial tenant spaces by making investments in maintenance and necessary repairs.

“There were a number of deferred maintenance items that needed immediate attention, and after assessing and prioritizing the needs, we have undertaken several repairs,” Newton Development Specialist Craig Armstrong said.

Those repairs include replacing broken safety lights and light fixtures on stairwells and upper floor elevator lobbies, repairing the leaking fifth floor roof, repairing key air conditioner units serving the Capitol II Theatre, replacing a piece of crushed sewer main below the basement floor, replacing a malfunctioning commercial water heater, jetting out floor drains and clogged pipes in the basement area, repairing leaking steam pipes under the theater, repairing leaking windows on the west side of the building affecting Midtown Café, Silverado and Bloomin’ Nails spaces, repairing the front door at Silverado and conducting a comprehensive hazardous materials study.

To date, the city has spend $19,121 on building expenses related to the completed repairs with future expenses coming following the final recommendation from Braun Intertec on its investigation of hazardous materials in the building. A payment of $10,949 is also due to Braun for its investigative work. The city has been receiving revenue from commercial tenant’s rent to offset part of the expenditures, according to city finance and development director Bryan Friedman.

“I have been very happy since the city has taken over the Maytag Hotel building,” Capitol II Theatre owner Dawn Bleeker said. “Craig Armstrong has been very attentive to our needs and has taken care of issues we’ve been having for quite some time.”

Work is not complete on the project, though, with maintenance attention shifting to the large air control systems in the building such as the heating system, including the boiler unit, and the aging air conditioning units.

There are also many ongoing issues, due mainly to deferred maintenance through the years in areas including restroom plumbing and minor electrical and heating/cooling issues.

“This is an old building with many outdated systems, so until a major renovation is undertaken by a developer, maintenance will be a constant requirement,” Armstrong said. “We did authorize a minor upgrade project — repainting the lobby area restroom, which serves Midtown Café, Silverado and Bloomin’ Nails, and installing an automatic air freshener.”

Armstrong said he is confident in the structure itself.

“The superstructure of the building itself is incredibly stable. Mr. Maytag spared no expense to make the structure of the building incredibly strong,” Armstrong said. “The amount of concrete and rebar in the building is almost unfathomable, and would be impossible to duplicate economically in the present day. That alone makes preserving and protecting this iconic and historic building a necessity for our community.”

Further work on the building will need to be aided in part by a good rain fall. Following the rain, those working on the building will be able to verify if the fifth floor roof repairs have stopped the leaks. Also, Armstrong said they would like to verify whether the third floor atrium roof is leaking.

“The next project is replacing the ceiling tiles in the areas that were damaged by two separate, but fairly devastating, plumbing leaks several months back. Those areas include Capitol II Theatre, Midtown Café, Silverado and Bloomin’ Nails,” Armstrong said. “Naturally, we will continue to be vigilant about all maintenance issues, and address them as soon as problems arise.”

Although the project can be trying, Armstrong said completing renovations on such an important building is very satisfying work.

“Although it has been a challenge to stabilize and maintain the Hotel Maytag, it is also very gratifying to know that we are making it possible for this grand piece of early 20th Century architecture to be the keynote of Newton’s downtown courthouse square for generations to come,” Armstrong said.

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or

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