Heartland Makes $20 Mil Investment in Historic Downtown Building

By Alan Van Zandt | avanzandt@kq2.com

Published 07/25 2014 04:07PM

Updated 07/25 2014 09:15PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Officials from Heartland Health on Friday announced the closure of a deal for the purchase of four separate properties in downtown St. Joseph including the historic German American Building.

The purchase price was reported for around $700,000, but officials say renovation costs could reach $20 million.

"It's a historic treasure," said Mark Laney, President & CEO of Heartland Health. "We will restore it to its original beauty and life."

 Laney says negotiations have been in the works for around two years with owners.

He says plans are to totally renovate the building and use it for office space for employees currently housed at the Heartland Business Plaza in the Hy-Vee Plaza.

"We looked at renovating that building," Laney said. "We looked at building a new building and we looked at renovating a historic building. When it all came down to the final decision, we wanted to do something to help renovate downtown, reinvigorate downtown.

Other property purchased will be used for parking.

Downtown groups have been working on renovation plans for the city center for years. They say they are excited that the Heartland announcement will only add to growing momentum.

"They can go to our businesses downtown, they can eat at our restaurants, shop at our boutiques," said  Rhabecca Boerkircher, Executive Director of the Downtown St. Joseph Downtown Partnership. "It's awesome for us."

"I've lived downtown since approximately 2000 and compared to where we were 14-15 years ago, this is just wonderful," said Greg Bigham, president of the St. Joseph Downtown Association.

The German American Bank Building was constructed in 1889 and is on the National Historic Register.

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