Wind damages historic Dubuque building, closes road

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) – Dubuque is a city full of history, but what happens when that history isn’t taken care of?

The Dubuque Brewing and Malting Company building has towered over Jackson and 30th Streets in Dubuque for more than a century. However, after being mostly vacant for years, it is nothing more than a crumbling skeleton.

Bits of the ornate structure fell during yesterday’s high winds and came crashing to the ground, prompting the closure of Jackson Street right in front of the building.

“It’s what we’ve really kind of been investing our time in the last couple days in making sure we keep this area safe,” said David Johnson, Dubuque Building Services Director.

The massive complex of building was once the most modern brewing facility in the Midwest. Following a sale in the 1940 to H&W Motor Express and Dubuque Packing Company, it has been known as the H&W building.

It has exchanged owners a number of times over the years and has fallen somewhat into disrepair.

“The investment in the property has changed hands. There was a new owner a year ago. The current developer has incredible intentions,” Johnson said.

Steve Emerson, a Cedar Rapids developer, bought the property back in 2017. He presented plans to the Dubuque City Council to turn it into apartments during a June 2018 council meeting. The plans would be to create more than 100 apartments in the building according to documents. The city pledged several million in various grants and tax incentives at that time.

In order to fulfill the development agreement made at the time, Emerson would have to have the project complete by August 2020.

For now though, Jackson Street and the intersection at 30th Street will remain closed for at least the weekend.

“Until the contractor or mason goes up there and stabilize that and until we have a structural engineer tell us everything is OK, we anticipate the road will remain closed until that time,” Johnson said.

The Dubuque Brewing and Malting building has faced the wrecking ball several times over the years, but in 2005 was placed in a historical protection district. This would require any demolition to be approved by the city council.

KWWL attempted to reach Emerson Friday, but had not heard back by air-time. We welcome his comments on the project.

Collin Dorsey

Collin Dorsey

Weekend Anchor
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