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A Colorado businessman with Iowa ties is continuing a downtown upper level renovation project set to create new and affordable housing space in the next two months.

Matt Blickenderfer may live in Colorado Springs, but his heart is in Iowa.

“My wife and I live with our kids ages five and six, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, but we are originally from northern Iowa, Nora Springs and St. Ansgar. We moved to Colorado 10 years ago after graduating from UNI but continue to visit Iowa regularly to spend time with our extended families,” Blickenderfer explained.

He says his passion is within real-estate investment and the majority of the properties they own are in small towns in Iowa.

“Investing in small communities, like Oelwein, has allowed me an opportunity to build my business, as well as help rejuvenate properties in communities, like the ones we grew up in,” he said.

Blickenderfer has seen investment opportunities grow with the purchase and renovation a few years ago of the former Iowa Workforce Development building at 400 S. Frederick Ave. He transformed that one-story office building into a rental triplex, providing housing for three families.

His latest acquisition was two adjoining downtown buildings, Flowers On Main at 18 S. Frederick Ave. and the building to its north, 16 S. Frederick, which operates and a collectibles shop. Both building were appealing because of their locations, retail space on the main level, and upper level housing opportunities. Each building has three apartments above, two two-bedroom and one one-bedroom, and they are undergoing total renovation.

“The six apartments will be available once the project is complete and will offer great housing options for residents in the community,” Blickenderfer said. “We prefer to use local contractors for our projects, which can also support the community, and also appreciate the work of our local property manager Jennifer Drewelow at ReMax.”

Drewelow noted that the apartments are spacious with updated features such as exposed brick in some, soft color pallet, new kitchens, baths and floor coverings. She added that being within walking distance of restaurants, shops and entertainment is appealing to young professionals and retirees, alike, without the worries of lawn care and snow removal.

“Three of the apartments over one building will be ready in July, with the other three completed in August,” she said.

Blickenderfer said when looking at investment opportunities he also checks out what is going on in the community.

“One of the main reasons I was attracted to investing in Oelwein was that the community was choosing to invest in itself. It’s great to see people take interest in new businesses and residents joining in supporting the community,” he said. “We are looking forward to similar projects in the area that will have a positive impact on the community.”