Oxford Junction leaders struggle to develop downtown area

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OXFORD JUNCTION, Iowa (KCRG) - Merle Tank, the mayor of Oxford Junction in Jones County, says the city is having a hard time developing its downtown area, a common struggle for many small towns in Iowa.

Right now, the city is trying to find a buyer for one of its oldest buildings. Tank says it's been up for sale for a couple of months now, but nobody has placed a bid.

The 130-year-old building has been as a bank, a post office and a salon int the past.

Tank says it's hard to get investors because people like to set up shop in big cities.

The building is located at 108 West Broadway Street. It's a two-story building that's been empty for more than 15 years, so it needs a lot of work, including a paint job, new floors, new walls-- a complete overhaul.

Mayor Tank says he wants to turn the downstairs part to a coffee shop or some type of business while turning the upstairs area into apartments. He says this could be the start of bringing downtown business to Oxford Junction.

“The town has slowly been slipping away from us,” he said. “If you noticed, we have some other empty buildings."

Mayor Tank says Oxford Junction's location makes it hard for investors. The town is far from other cities.

"The bigger cities, Cedar Rapids, Clinton, Davenport, Dubuque are all 50 miles [away],” he said. “So it's hard to get people here. It's a long commute to any good jobs. We don't offer many jobs here."

Mayor Tank wouldn't give a dollar amount on the price of the building.

The city got a $100,000 catalyst grant from the state to fix up the building. That money will help fix up the place for the buyer.

Anyone interested can call the city at 563-826-2400 for more details.