CEDAR FALLS — Cedar Falls is a growing community because of the commercial and residential development.
“What kicked this off was about nine to 12 months ago we had three different companies come in that needed a certain amount of acreage for a certain sized building,” said Cedar Falls Mayor Jim Brown.
Brown was told if more companies around the same size came in the city they would struggle to find space. From there Brown credits his staff with working to incorporate new areas for the city.
“It’s just indicative of Cedar Falls being a great place to do business, and we want to make sure to be ahead of that, not behind,” Brown said. “We’ve had some great paperwork come across our desk from folks looking to expand and looking to come into town for this coming construction season.”
The city’s growth is primarily spreading to the southwest in its technology park and western residential areas. More growth is coming southwest because of the industrial park and residential locations and Waterloo city limits and landscape barriers to the east.
“We want to be able to provide for continued industrial growth because we are seeing businesses expand or want to locate in this area,” said Community Development Director Stephanie Houk Sheetz.
Brown said staff and elected officials are doing their best to predict what new business and residential growth will look like for Cedar Falls.
“To make sure that kind of growth is what the public is looking for and what those folks that spend the capital are looking for in terms of doing business and living in Cedar Falls,” Brown said.
Throughout 2018 new businesses have come to Cedar Falls like Raising Cane’s Chicken, and others have expanded, like Rabo Agrifinance.
“We purchase land because we’re seeing the trend remains very strong,” Sheetz said.
A lot of residential plats have been popping up in western Cedar Falls.
“The residential is being driven by the new elementary school,” Brown said.
Bess Streeter Aldrich Elementary School started its first school year in August 2018 and is Cedar Falls’ seventh elementary school building with 340 to 350 students.
In November, Cedar Falls began to add land west of its city limits to the city’s industrial park tax increment finance district. The city is planning to purchase and annex the property on the east side of Union Road between Viking Road and Ridgeway Avenue.
In November the city got Black Hawk County’s approval for the expansion.
The expansion has correlated with the city’s increased population over the last decade.
“We’re doing on average 150 residential permits a year,” Sheetz said. “We’re seeing that stay steady and because the residential growth is steady, usually the commercial kind of follows that.”
The commercial growth in Cedar Falls has followed the city’s residential growth.
Viking Road and Highway 58 have seen large amounts of development.
“In the industrial park we saw the opening of Ashley Furniture Warehouse,” Sheetz said. “Cedar Falls has been pretty steady in terms of both its residential and commercial growth.”
Cedar Falls has seen some its highest permit evaluation years over the past five years.
“We’ve had some really strong years,” Sheetz said.
2018 was Cedar Falls’ second highest year for construction activity.
A total of $129.1 million worth of building permits were issued in the Cedar Falls area for the fiscal year ending June 30, with 115 new homes, 14 new commercial and industrial buildings, and $57 million worth of commercial and residential alterations, additions and garages were started.
2018’s construction edged out last year’s total of $113.5 million in construction activity for 2017, but couldn’t top 2016’s record of $151 million.
Last year a record 221 homes were added compared to this year’s 115.
“What’re generally anticipating is continuing to have strong permits happening here,” Sheetz said. “We think we’re going to have another strong year (this year) comparable to 2018.”
For three years Cedar Falls has had over $100 million worth of construction permits issued.
“We’re really excited about what’s going to be taking place,” Brown said. “We still have room to grow both commercially and residentially; it takes careful planning to make sure it goes well in the future.”