A Message from the Developer – Looking Ahead to 2011

Chaden Halfhill

Chaden Halfhill

I prefer looking forward over staring backwards. Driving is generally easier this way and so is piloting a new vision. As a pilot project celebrating high performance Main Street renovations, the Green & Main pilot project is definitely no exception. We have entered our fifth year developing this vision and are now just breaking ground. Challenges still remain, but the familiarity of construction and the sheer excitement of seeing physical change help replenish the spirit after so much effort has been put into pursuing supportive financial solutions for our initiative.

We have spent the past four weeks deconstructing the interior of the commercial space, restoring rotten floor joists and preparing to insert four thirty-five foot steel beams that will bolster the second story load-bearing walls. The installation of these beams will occur just after the new year begins and will set the tone for 2011. This new year will be dedicated to rehabilitating this depression-era building that originally hosted H&H Grocery and three apartments and will now experience a renaissance as a holistic health center and an individual upstairs residence.

So here we stand mid-winter with six inches of snow above ground and six inches of frost below. We will finally excavate for our addition in January, thus providing exterior access to the lower level. Timing for this project has never appeared to benefit speed or cost, so I remain committed to its vision as a catalyst for change and simply hope that the resulting retrofit and its research will have uncanny impact upon its completion.

We recently discovered that the existing concrete masonry walls lack footings, so we will certainly be required to underpin the walls and provide necessary structural support to carry new loads generated by our planned vegetated roof. The steel beams also honor the effort to incorporate green technologies within the historic fabric of this quintessential mixed-use building, as they serve to help transfer the additional weight of six inches of soil and plantings to the basement. Therefore, much of January will be reestablishing the basis for our foundation and preparing the site for masonry construction in the heart of an Iowa winter. There will certainly be plenty of activity and visual interest for our historic residential neighborhood, Sherman Hill.

Finally, though, in keeping with the passion and spirit of artists, we forge ahead with construction centered on a vision for a bright future, a future that we help define through the recreation of this building and its educational outreach.


– Chaden Halfhill is an entrepreneur and visionary of the Green & Main Initiative. He makes complicated to-do lists involving green algorithms and bamboo.


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