The clutch of small businesses rumored soon to be nesting in the old Woolworth’s building at 1102 Second St. in downtown Perry will have a pretty face to front the street with if the plans presented Wednesday to the Perry Historic Preservation Commission come to pass.
Jacqueline Riekena of West Des Moines, owner of the 11,000-square-foot property, gave the commission a glimpse of the facade planned for the building, which has been undergoing demolition since last November.
The prospect of businesses with names like the Iowa Underground and Seventeen Spokes and Prairie Girls Clothing and Primitive Finds seemed to intrigue the commission.
“The older people wanted the tearoom,” Riekena told the commission. “I’ve always wanted a tearoom. I spent a lot of time in the South, Texas and Louisiana, and I thought that’s a good thing to build on. The older women, my PEO sisters, a lot of people miss the tearoom, and I wanted to bring that back, so that’s what’s right here.”
“Thymes Remembered is going to be a hard act to follow,” said Commission Chairperson Jeanette Peddicord, referring to the popular tearoom and tourist attraction that operated in Perry from 1990 until 2006.
“It will be,” Riekena said, “but I’m sure I can pull in some good resources, and I have talked to Ramona, who has relocated to Florida, and we’ve been in touch.”
Riekena said Nathan Compton, a Perry native who now works at Ames-based Haila Architecture, will be the principal architect on the project.
“I thought it was very important to bring back somebody who had the culture and the feel of the local people,” she said, “and I’ve kept a lot of that even as I’ve been designing the building and working with contractors on the building. It’s a huge investment for this city. It’s over a $1 million investment, and I think that’s important because you’ve got to get people to come to Perry. You’ve got to have something that complements the hotel and complements the other businesses. One of the key things in selling this project at any level is we want repeat visitors. We also want something that people are proud of.”
The commission seemed pleased with the presentation and asked a few questions and made a few observations.
“I remember the original charring,” Commissioner Ronda Onken said of the old Spurgeon’s basement area, where the building’s fire-damaged foundation is still visible.
Riekena said she plans to bring 100 jobs to Perry.
“I plan on creating a lot of jobs, and that’s important for this community,” she said.