July 25, 2021

ANNEX SOLD (AGAIN): Jasper County Supervisors accept $16K bid for annex building

Buyer wants to expand his telemarketing services in the historical building

The Jasper County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday accepted a $16,000 bid from business owner Chris Byrd to purchase the county annex building, which he says will be used to expand his telemarketing services. The county only received one bid after putting the building up for sale in late May.

“To me it was a great investment,” Byrd told Newton News after supervisors had voted 3-0 to accept the bid and authorize the county attorney to prepare the sale of the building. “It’s going to be a great place for me to grow.”

Although Byrd will be using the property to expand his business operations, he acknowledged county employees will still be occupying the space for another year until they move to the newly constructed administration building. Byrd told the board of supervisors it shouldn’t be problem.

“We reached a pretty solid understanding that the … employees are going to be there it seems like almost a year. And I see that working perfectly with my plans,” Byrd told supervisors. “So it shouldn’t be a problem at all.”

Byrd, who has offices in Missouri, said chances are his telemarketing business will not need the entire space included in the county annex building. Knowing this, he suggested other entities might be able to occupy the property. Byrd is also purchasing the adjacent towers on the property.

The annex building, whose condition has been steadily declining over the years, was originally up for sale in summer 2020. The Jasper County Board of Supervisors was presented a $15,000 bid by Front Porch Development, who proposed to renovate the property into downtown housing units.

However, the county’s agreement with Front Porch Development was due to expire by the end of January 2021 and was contingent upon the developer securing a grant or substantial funds to pay for the project. Since the grant application was unsuccessful, the developer could not pursue the project.

In 2020, the building was added to Preservation Iowa’s list of endangered properties for its “significant condition issues,” including water damage to the basement foundation, inaccessibility of the southeast entrance and deterioration of the window wells.

Prior to its endangered status, the Newton Downtown Historic District where the annex is located was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Numerous county departments still operate from within the annex building, which had tested positive for airborne mold spores in 2017; Jasper County Health Department staff subsequently moved to a temporary office space at 116 W. Fourth St. S. later that same year.

Upon a successful $3.6 million bond referendum earlier this year, those departments still working in the annex building will move to the new Jasper County administration office located in the former NewCare Health Services clinic, 315 W. Third St. N., in Newton.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

Christopher Braunschweig

Reporter with a strong penchant for community journalism.