Old Ames City Hall may be sold, saved

Dawn Bormann

Five years ago, the old Ames City Hall building was vacated when the city government moved into its newly remodeled building at 515 Clark Ave.

It has sat lifeless ever since. However, if Youth and Shelter Services has its way, the building will soon have life again.

The group has submitted a plan to the Ames City Council that would allow YSS to buy the building, located at the corner of Fifth Street and Kellogg Avenue, for $500.

The plan promises $1.5 million in renovations to preserve the landmark.

“We plan to remodel to try and bring it back to the original floor plan as possible,” said George Belitsos, chief executive officer for YSS.

The building was built in 1915 and was designed by the same architect who designed the Knoll. It was the first Ames building to be designated a historical landmark, Belitsos said. The only additions the group plans to make are to add an elevator in the entryway to make the building handicap-accessible.

The group already has the wheels turning in the event they receive the green light from the city council. The proposal is scheduled for discussion at the next Ames City Council meeting.

“In the spring of 1996 we’ll be launching a fund-raising campaign to preserve the building. We’ll be turning to the community and the ISU campus with sororities and fraternities to help contribute,” Belitsos said. “We’ll be happy to meet with any group interested in helping the youth in our community.”

If YSS is allowed to purchase the building they would close some of their present locations and move most of their counseling offices into the building, he added.

Since no one would actually live in the building, the group would continue operating three of the present shelters where people are living, Belitsos said.

YSS, Iowa’s first runaway shelter, was created nearly 20 years ago as a program of the Iowa State YMCA, Belitsos said. “We provide emergency shelter, foster homes and teen pregnancy programs. It’s primarily for children, teens and their parents, but we also work with teen parents or any single mom under 25,” he said.

There are no formal ties between YSS and ISU presently, but Broshar said many university faculty and staff are involved with the organization’s Board of Directors.