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The Millwork District Revitalization

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DUBUQUE, Iowa - A huge revitalization project is transforming Dubuque's old manufacturing district into a vibrant new mini-community in Our Town.

Lying between the Port of Dubuque and the downtown area, The Millwork District is within walking and biking distance of retail, entertainment, and some big employers including IBM. There, developers are converting more than two-dozen old warehouses and factories into a retail, commercial and residential area where people are already moving in.

They're working to create a community within a community that doesn't look quite like anything else. It's a project years in the making that all started with a vision by the greater Dubuque community, developer Tim McNamara said.

"It was 2005, the city initiated "Envision 2010" where they asked the citizens what would you like Dubuque to look like in five years and one of the top 10 items was revitalizing the Warehouse District," McNamara said.

The inspiration to redevelop came from the space "The Voices" where for the past nine years hundreds have gathered to see an art show on display in this overwhelmingly beautiful building.
From there, the revitalization took off.

"A number of the big property owners are working together and working with the city to try and create this community that will really be sustainable long term, and make a place that is very desirable to live, work and play," McNamara added.

Of the 27 buildings, the first fully revamped warehouse opened last year. It 's home to 72 apartments, all with a view of history now captured in the present. Now the focus is on building business, including plans for a food co-op.

Co-op member and board member Mary Moody says the store has already signed upwards of 1,100 members without an open storefront and hopes to open this holiday season.

"It will be great for this neighborhood which is going to be residential, professional, and retail to have a food store that is right here," Moody said.

Though the heart of this neighborhood still involves the arts, with a gallery already open where it wasn't necessarily planned, Studioworks Director Janice Roeig-Blong said.

"As this building came online we started having some art shows just in this space as it was being developed and it became just a natural gathering space for everyone and we worked with the building developers to keep it as an active gallery," Roeig-Blong said. "With the theater, the music and the arts that are alive in Dubuque this will be the destination."

Developers hope to have most of the Millwork District buildings up and running in the next five years.

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