New opportunities: Area nonprofit sells first project home

CUTLINE: Frank Iliff, executive director of Rebuilding Together Muscatine County, said he hopes the group’s first renovation project is one of many to come. The house, turned into an office building, has been transformed back into a residence. Photo by Mary Mason-Wheeler

The small grey home on the corner of 7th and Mulberry may appear to be just like any other to passersby. However, to Frank Iliff, Executive Director of Rebuilding Together Muscatine County (RTMC), the house represents new opportunities.

The house at 614 Mulberry was purchased by the City of Muscatine in 1996 to become the home of the Muscatine Safe Streets program. After the Safe Streets program closed its doors in November 2017, the house remained as city property while it sat vacant.

In 2018, city officials began a discussion about how to remove the property from the city’s property list with the eventual goal of having the property being able to be sold and restored as a residential property. To facilitate the restoration, RTMC was the organization chosen to take on the task.

RTMC took possession of the property in January of 2019 and began the rehabilitation process. The home had been converted to an office, and bedrooms would need to be sectioned off and updated.

Over the past year, Iliff has been working as a general contractor overseeing the construction needs within the home. “This has been a learning process for both me an the board. We have never taken on a project this large, and we generally work with volunteers for our smaller projects.”

“RTMC works with low-income members of our community to help keep them safe, warm, and dry,” he said. “Updating this two-bedroom home that will be sold at a moderate price falls right in line with that philosophy.”

The project home is the first to be owned, updated and sold by RTMC, but Iliff hopes this home is just the beginning.

“There are more properties in the community that we would like to work with. When you update one home, you are making an impact on the whole block, the whole community.”

The home now features two bedrooms, a combination living room, dining area, and kitchen, main level laundry, and an updated bathroom and has been listed with Gary Kaalberg of RE/Max Professionals for $69,900.

— Mary Mason-Wheeler serves as the Board Secretary of RTMC