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      Upstairs Downtown event to feature progress in downtown Ottumwa

      There are several organizations working hard to renovate the look of downtown Ottumwa and now it's the time of the year when the public gets to see what progress has been made.

      The 5th Annual Upstairs Downtown event will be Saturday, May 18th from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Participants will be able to view and tour five downtown buildings that are nearly complete or in the process of being renovated. The five stops this year include three follow-ups from last years event; 228 E. Second Street (the Shape Up Ottumwa building), the rehabilitated upstairs apartments at 221 E. Main Street and the newly completed apartments above Appanoose Rapids at 332 E. Main Street. Those three projects were in progress last year, but now are complete.

      This year's tour also includes two new stops; the Leadership Academy's new home at 113 E. Main Street and "raw space" located at 307 E. Main Street.

      Upstairs Downtown is an important event because it goes hand-in-hand with one of Main Street Ottumwa's first priorities, historical preservation, and it shows the public that there is more going on and more to the buildings they only see the outside of on a day-to-day basis.

      "I think it's important to recognize that Ottumwa has more beauty than you know," said Bob Untiedt, Director of Main Street Ottumwa. "And I think going inside is what will make all the difference."

      Untiedt said Ottumwa has come a long way in historical preservation and the expansion of apartments in downtown.

      "I bet in terms of creation of apartments downtown, we're among the top towns in the state of Iowa in doing that," he said. "And that makes an enormous difference in terms of the sustainability of the downtown as a place, as well."

      Tickets for Upstairs Downtown are $10 each and can be purchased at the Main Street Ottumwa office, the Little Bake Shop or the Hotel Ottumwa. Participants at the event can show up at any of the five locations between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and start the tour.