The former home of a Dubuque bar soon will be transformed into a retail space featuring more than a dozen area vendors.
Dubuque resident Tim Hitzler said he recently commenced renovation work at 1902 Central Ave., a storefront previously occupied by establishments such as Players Sports Bar and King of Clubs.
He hopes to transform the space into a new retail offering dubbed Central Avenue Mercantile. The space would feature about 15 local vendors selling “homemade, handmade or homegrown” products.
“We envision this as a place for businesses that aren’t large enough to have their own store or restaurant, but still want to sell their products and gain some exposure,” Hitzler said.
Participating vendors would not need to staff their booths. Rather, a cashier would remain on site to handle the transactions.
Hiztler hopes Central Avenue Mercantile will open its doors in October. However, he acknowledged that the opening date is a moving target.
Much of the work being done aims to restore the original characteristics of the structure. For instance, Hitzler is stripping away plaster to expose original brick, and is removing stucco to reveal the cast-iron columns outside the storefront.
Hitzler is no stranger to the progress taking place in the Central Avenue corridor. In 2017, he founded Key City Creative Center, a collaborative work space at 1781 White St. that provides tools, equipment and other resources to local residents.
“There is a lot of momentum in the area,” he said. “Each time something new comes in, you see more people and more activity here. If one (business owner) gains, we all sort of gain eventually.”
Upcycle Dubuque, which creates and sells items made from recaptured materials, is among the new offerings in the corridor.
Co-owner Kristina Beytien said Upcycle Dubuque soon will renovate an additional 600 square feet within its facility at 1838 Central Ave. This expansion was made possible thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Dubuque Metropolitan Area Solid Waste Agency.
Beytien said this will enable Upcycle Dubuque to move its existing scrap store into a new part of the building and allow it to take in more materials. The space currently used as a scrap store will then be utilized as a classroom and “drop-in crafting space” where visitors can utilize sewing machines and other equipment.
She credited the recent grant award with making the expansion possible.
“We have already sunk a lot of money into this building, so this funding was very important for us,” she said.
She noted that the expansion also will allow Upcycle Dubuque to create a “second storefront” for its building on White Street. This will provide an additional way to access the facility and help customers find their way to the store even while construction is occurring along Central Avenue.