In today’s world, the latest and greatest in technology is something most people desire for their home and business.  Spiral Communications is banking on that desire with their move to downtown Nebraska City.
Currently based in Glenwood, Ia., Spiral Communications is an internet, telephone, television, and computer provider and service system, with both business and residential supports.  
Since April 2014, they have been hard at work at 800 Central Avenue, transforming the 120-year-old building into a structure solid enough to house the massive framework required to run the technology.
“We love old buildings and being downtown,” said Spiral Communications CEO and President Craig Hagenau.  “Our main fiber hub will be in the building so it was important for us to be centrally located.”
Hagenau said the fiber option provided by Spiral Communications will allow for more reliable and higher speed internet connection, with information traveling at 1 gigabit per second.
“Having that connectivity is a gateway to the outside world,” Hagenau said.  “It is a big draw for businesses and industries looking for a place to relocate.”
Spiral Communications will start running fiber through the downtown business district from the river west to the Lied Lodge & Conference Center.  Hagenau said that will be done this fall.  Part of that route does include residential neighborhoods.  Beginning next spring, more neighborhoods will have the option of signing up for fiber.
“For residential customers, if you just use internet to check email, you might not notice much of a difference,” Hagenau said.  “For those households with multiple devices, including televisions, smart phones, tablets, and computers, they will see a big difference, especially if they run multiple devices at the same time.  Also, the fiber is located underground, so service is rarely interrupted.”
Hagenau said the decision to renovate a historic building downtown was an easy one.  The company was given LB840 funds to fix up the building and has received support from the city and the county.  
“We are going to be here a long time,” he said.  “We are excited to be a part of this community.  Being in the center of town is awesome.”
The rehab list for 800 Central Avenue was extensive.  The back and front walls both had to be completely rebuilt and steel supports were installed in the basement.  The entire roof was replaced and the interior gutted.  
“We uncover new surprises every day,” Hagenau said.
There were two empty apartments upstairs when Spiral Communications bought the building.  That space has been cleared to make room for the corporate offices of Spiral Communications.  The company will make that move from Glenwood to Nebraska City when the budget recovers from the ‘surprises’ found during the main renovations.
One unique aspect of the building that Hagenau said was a draw is the large mural on the east side.
“We love the mural,” Hagenau said, “although we had to tuck point the entire building inside and out, so the brick guys made sure to do a careful job.”
The exposed interior brick walls and tin ceiling keep the historic sense of the building, but Spiral Communications will also be installing modern chandeliers, track lighting, and replacing the unsalvageable floor.  
Hagenau said they used a variety of local contractors, including Marty Bohlen as the general contractor, All American Painting, and Esser Flooring.
Two long-time Nebraska City residents will also be part of the Spiral Communications family.  Rick Freshman, current owner of Video Home Theater and Otoe County Commissioner, has been hired as the office manager and Mike Gress, owner of NebWorks, Inc., will be the network engineer.
Freshman owned Video Home Theater in downtown Nebraska City since 1983.
“I think this is great for Nebraska City,” Freshman said.  “I love that they are fixing up an old building.”
The structure will house a retail showcase, a repair area, and a training area.  The plan is to offer free or low-cost classes to senior citizens, students, businesses, and the general public on how to use various software programs, social media sites, and develop web pages.  They plan to be open to the public at the beginning of September.
While Spiral Communications is doing the fiber construction, they will employ around 15 people.  The office will have six to eight employees once it’s all set up, including an onsite technician for business and residential customers.
Nebraska City Public Works Commissioner Jim Stark said he believes Spiral Communication’s commitment to downtown Nebraska City will serve as a catalyst for Central Avenue.
Hidden Jems Antique Mall
It took quite a bit of work, including 30 gallons of paint, to turn 418 Central Avenue into a viable option for a retail store, but Janice Moyer made it work.
Moyer is the manager and owner of Hidden Jems Antique Mall at 418 Central Avenue.  Hidden Jems has been open since May 2014.  The store currently has five vendors on consignment.
Moyer worked on the property for a year prior to opening.  
Upgrades included gutting the property of miniature golf items installed under a previous owner, tuck pointing the exposed brick wall, putting on a new roof, redoing the furnace room and bathroom, updating water and sewer lines, removing the old garage doors, installing a new door, window, and ramp, redoing the floors, and, yes, using 30-some gallons of paint in the process.
“We’ve had good traffic,” Moyer said, noting that while she loves her view of the river and all the development going on along the block, there is a challenge not being located in the traditional business district of downtown Nebraska City.  Still, Moyer believes the uniqueness of her building and the wares of her store will continue to draw shoppers.
“There are still railroad tracks down one side of the retail floor which used to be used to cart supplies from the alley to the front of the building on a rail cart,” Moyer said.