A longtime Blair resident and businessman is hoping to give the former Blair Super Foods building new life.
But, first Brent Stirek, owner of Stirek Construction Services, will need to get approval on a conditional use permit (CUP) for the property at 208 N. 19th St.
A public hearing on Stirek's CUP is one of three items on the agenda for Tuesday's Blair Planning Commission meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at Blair City Hall, 218 S. 16th St.
Stirek is looking to use the building for his company, which manufactures furniture and cabinetry for senior living centers throughout the Midwest. His plan includes giving the exterior of the building a new, modern look, similar to those seen in area strip malls. He also plans to construct a second building along the Front Street side and add a privacy fence.
"The two elevations from Front Street and the highway will all be cleaned up and it will be a nicer looking building along there," Stirek said.
Before the hearing on Stirek's request, the planning commission will also have public hearings and discuss and consider recommendations on two additional items:
• Consider an ordinance amending the City of Blair Zoning Ordinance, Article 10 by adding section 1007, Special Mixed Use Central Business District.
• An ordinance amending the official zoning map for the city by establishing an overlay district under Section 1007, Special Mixed Use Industrial Overlay District, which would be used in combination with the base zoning of Central Business District.
The Super Foods property is part of the central business district and the overlay district being requested by the city, Assistant City Administrator Phil Green said.
The area is generally along Front Street and south of the railroad tracks in the central part of Blair.
Green said the overlay district would resolve issues the city has had in that area in recent years with regard to zoning.
"There is so much, from there to the other side of the tracks, that is a mixed use of a of a lot things," Green said. "The north side is (zoned) light industrial, but you have a bar and (at one time) a daycare and other businesses that, technically, shouldn't be in light industrial."
Green said it is just how the city has developed.
Establishing an overlay district, Green said, would allow the unique uses already in place, such as a lumber yard, automobile service station, gas stations, printing and publishing business, warehouses and other storage uses to remain.
"An overlay district is a way to take non-confirming uses, which obviously nobody has a problem with because they are there, and begin to make them legal — or not, non-conforming," Green said. "Some, in the future, may need to come get a conditional use permit if they want to change something, but otherwise, they can just stay the way they are."
Green said Stirek's request would take advantage of the new designation.
The type of use would be considered a contractor yard with material fabrication done inside only under the zoning and overlay district and Green said, a CUP would be required. Stirek is requesting a 99-year CUP.
While the manufacturing of furniture and cabinetry will take place inside, Stirek said there will be equipment, vehicles and storage containers in the current parking lot, but he said the new 40-foot by 80-foot building and a privacy fence will provide a buffer and hide them from view.
Having lived in Blair all his life and operating his business for 24 years, Stirek said, while looking to expand his operation, he knew he wanted to stay in Blair. His operation is currently at 727 Iowa St., in the former R&R Welding building.
"We were looking at finding ways to repurpose some building around Blair and this happened to come along," he said.
Stirek said he has a purchase agreement in place, but it is contingent upon approval of the CUP. The building is owned by Loyal J. Drey, who operated the business when it was a Loyal's Food Store.
The store was owned by Pat Andersen and Don Vacek when it closed on Sept. 1, 2017, but Drey still owned the building and property.
The building has been vacant since 2017. It was recently used as a donation center following flooding in March.
The new location would be a signifiant increase in size for Stirek Construction Services. Currently, Stirek operates his business out of a 4,500-square-foot building. According to the listing on the NP Dodge Real Estate website, the former grocery story building is 20,754 square feet.
Built in 1962, the building sits on 1.25 acres. The NP Dodge site lists an asking price of $390,000. Stirek declined to disclose the purchase price in his tentative agreement.
After public hearings on each item, planning commission members will make a recommendation on each item to the Blair City Council. The council will have public hearings and consider each item for approval at its Aug. 13 meeting.