WATERLOO — Construction crews were braving winter weather conditions to erect a new Kwik Trip fuel blending plant in Waterloo’s Martin Road industrial park.Farther west, workers in the Cedar Falls Industrial Park remained busy in late January working on a new office building, fitness center and gymnasium at 924 W. Viking Road.
Economic development officials in both cities point to the ongoing activity and available room for growth as signs their industrial parks are healthy and ready for more business in 2018.
“We’ve had very strong growth happening,” said Cedar Falls Community Development Director Stephanie Houk Sheetz, pointing to the city’s rapidly filling industrial park expansion west of the Target Distribution Center.
“We’ve got some lots spoken for there,” she added. “And we’re expecting to see a couple of projects in 2018.”
That expansion area, created in 2009 as available lots became scarce in the industrial park between Hudson Road and Iowa Highway 58, saw a new $7.2 million Ashley Furniture distribution center open last November and expects Buckeye Corrugated Inc., formerly known as Hawkeye Corrugated Box, to break ground this spring on an $8 million building.
Sheetz said there are still plenty of shovel-ready lots available for prospects in the industrial park, which have available street, sewer, water, communications and utilities in place.
The city also is marketing its Northern Cedar Falls Industrial Park, northeast of the U.S. 218 and Iowa 58 interchange. The East Central Iowa Co-op and Standard Distribution already have large facilities in the park.
Sheetz noted there are still plenty of lots available in the northern industrial area, which adds railroad access to the other utilities available on site.
Meanwhile, Cedar Falls planners will be contemplating the next expansion area for the southern industrial park, which includes about 160 acres of farm land the city already acquired between West Ridgeway Avenue and U.S. Highway 20 on both sides of Hudson Road.
“Our steps here will be thinking about what kind of infrastructure, what kind of plan should we develop,” she said. “What types of uses should we encourage there?”
Meanwhile, the city of Waterloo has accumulated plenty of industrial development acres around the city and will be working to install the necessary infrastructure this year to ensure lots are ready to go when prospects come knocking.
“We have worked to assemble land in strategic places to match the overall land use plan and to match up with favorable mains for infrastructure, compatible uses, overall transportation networks, etc.,” said Community Planning and Development Director Noel Anderson.
“Now we need to plat the lots, extend the infrastructure into the parks and to each lot, as well as connect into the major roadway networks for efficient layouts and shovel-ready lots,” he added.
That includes the South Waterloo Business Park around the U.S. 20 and Ansborough Avenue interchange. The Iowa Economic Development Authority certified the site last year, putting it on a short list of cities contacted when major development projects are searching Iowa locations.
Waterloo also is in the process of installing infrastructure and platting a 50-acre expansion of the Northeast Industrial Site along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Another 180 acres are available in that area for larger projects needing major water and sewer capacity or rail service.
The city also is continuing to work to create industrial lots in the MidPort America park around the airport.
While the city doesn’t own more land in the Martin Road Industrial Park, also known as Greenbelt Centre, the area around the former Waterloo Greyhound Park and intersection of U.S. Highways 20 and 63 is being developed in partnership with private owners.
Anderson noted more than 115 acres remains available in Greenbelt Centre, where Love’s Travel Plaza recently built, and about 90 acres are available on the east side of U.S. 63 from north of Ridgeway south to U.S. 20.
“With land sites ranging from one to 25 acres in size, there is a land of opportunity at this highway-to-highway interchange,” Anderson said.
Along with those “greenfield” industrial sites, Waterloo also is working to bring new businesses into the former Rath Packing Co. property it acquired following the meatpacker’s bankruptcy in 1985. SJ Construction built there last year and Crystal Distribution broke ground late last year on a 50,000-square-foot expansion.