During the latter part of the 20th Century, the Dubuque downtown area needed a boost. Homeowners and businesses alike were leaving for other parts of Dubuque in search of newer, more modern buildings and amenities. Vacancy increased, thereby inviting blight and crime.
John and Mary Gronen were compelled to address some of these vacant and neglected buildings. In the early 1990s, they built a strong team of skilled construction and masonry craftspeople and began rehabilitating homes in the Washington Neighborhood. This group of talented individuals eventually became Gronen Restoration.
This was followed by: Gronen Properties (manages both commercial and residential properties), Gronen Development (guides each client through the all-important early stages of every project), and DBQ Property Group (Real Estate Division). The Gronen team takes pride in building community and leading the way in revitalization of Dubuque and the region.
INSPIRED: We work with inspiration. We do what we love. We are a part of something bigger, and we strive to make an impact.
AUTHENTIC: We value integrity. We believe in transparent communication. We stand behind what we say, and we are committed to following through.
DETAILED: We pay attention. We know that the little things matter. We respect the details and strive towards perfection.
GRATEFUL: We practice gratitude. We don’t take success for granted. We are grateful to work in this community, with each other, and with our clients and tenants.
FAMILY: We are a family. Relationships matter. We are inclusive and we look out for one another; we believe people come first, second, and third.
2015 Washington Street, Dubuque, IA was the first restoration project completed by Gronen in the 1990s.
At 208 feet, Steeple Square is the tallest structure rehabilitated by Gronen.
SHARING THE VISION
Gronen is a leader in building community and growing economic and social vibrancy. We believe that a vital urban core reflects the sustainability and inclusiveness of a community, and we advance projects that cultivate a unique sense of place.
We believe in the power of partnerships. Over the past two decades, the team at Gronen has learned that nothing is possible without teamwork, tenacity, and a willingness to invest time, energy, and hard work.
INVESTING IN THE FUTURE
Four Mounds HEART Program (Housing Education and Rehabilitation Training)
The Gronen team was integral in founding the HEART Program housed at Four Mounds Foundation. HEART serves Dubuque teens who are at-risk of dropping out of high school. These students, who are not succeeding in the traditional classroom, are instead placed in a living laboratory through which they learn vocational trades in construction, take part in financial literacy training, receive high school diplomas, and connect with post-secondary opportunities.
Through HEART, students restore dilapidated rental units from the inside out in Dubuque’s Washington and North End neighborhoods. These revitalized homes are then sold to first-time homeowners and working families. Since its inception in 2004, the HEART program has:
A graduation rate of 91%
Transformed 55 buildings into 35 beautiful homes
Invested more than $1.5 million into Dubuque’s urban core
Tripled home values and taxes on restored properties
Completed 44 additional community projects such as Eagle Point Park pavilions
Provided 84,000 hours of community service in downtown Dubuque over 14 years
Smart Growth Development
Gronen created and funded Smart Growth Development Coalition, a nonprofit which has led critical coordinated efforts in advocating for the Historic Tax Credit with a unified voice. This work has raised the Historic Tax Credit caps, spurred economic growth in Iowa, and has been lauded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of the most effective advocacy efforts in the country. Recently, Smart Growth Development commissioned a Statewide economic impact study that has been essential in retaining the State and Federal Historic Tax Credits.
Building upon our passion for historic restoration and its impacts on a vibrant economy, Gronen, in partnership with John and Alice Butler, crafted the vision for the nonprofit organization, Heritage Works. The Gronen team committed substantial staff time and resources in developing a business and strategic plan to promote and support smaller scale restoration projects in Dubuque and the surrounding region through Heritage Works’ mission-driven work.
A founding partner in developing a vision and plan for the transformation of the former St. Mary’s vacant church campus, Gronen has been a leader and project manager of the Steeple Square revitalization. We are working with the nonprofit board to develop housing, jobs, education, vocational training, and cultural experiences through the $15 million investment in Dubuque’s Washington Neighborhood. The transformational revitalization will demonstrate to the community that we believe in investing in the people and places in our downtown. Steeple Square will serve as a hub of support, a model of innovative collaboration, and we believe it’s a gateway to Dubuque’s True North and to Schmitt Island.
Schmid Innovation Center and Millwork Collective
Through Envision 2010, the Dubuque community identified revitalization of the Historic Millwork District as a top priority for achieving Dubuque’s vision of sustainability. The Gronen team was the first company to take on the risk of purchasing and redeveloping a warehouse in Dubuque’s abandoned Millwork District.
In addition to the mixed-use space including housing, business, restaurants and retail, the Schmid Innovation Center is home to a dynamic multi-tenant organization supporting non-profits and community initiatives. The Millwork Collective is home to more than 10 nonprofits who are able to operate more efficiently and generate increased impact through co-location and shared services. This provides cost savings while fostering new opportunities.