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010818bp-black-hawk-gymnastics

A new Black Hawks Gymnastics building near U.S. Highway 63 and Ridgeway Avenue in Waterloo is one of many area construction projects started in the past six months.

WATERLOO -- Cedar Valley building officials are expecting a construction boom when warmer weather arrives in the spring.

Waterloo and Cedar Falls building inspections departments were both reporting around $50 million in permitted construction activity from July through December, or the first half of their fiscal years.

But staff with both cities said projects waiting to start should push them over $100 million by the fiscal year's end.

"We have great activity all over the community," said Waterloo Planning and Development Director Noel Anderson. "We are seeing good investments in manufacturing, industrial, commercial and residential activities."

Waterloo issued building permits for $49.4 million in construction during the first half of the year, which is ahead of the $43.3 million tallied by the same point in 2016.

"Last year we topped at $110 million, so this is a very good pace to meet our overall goal of $100 million for the year," Anderson said. "We expect a very strong spring construction with many announced projects being finalized to begin."

Major permits issued during the first half in Waterloo include a $2.7 million addition at the John Deere Westfield Avenue plant, an $828,000 dental office on Fisher Drive, a $750,000 Fusion Dance Studio and $708,000 Black Hawk Gymnastics building both north of Ridgeway Avenue near U.S. Highway 63, and a new Kwik Star fuel blending station on Ridgeway.

Projects expected to start yet this year include a major expansion of Crystal Distribution Services in the former Rath Packing Co. area, a new All In Grocery at U.S. 63 and Franklin Street, the renovation of the downtown Ramada Hotel and convention center, a new veterinary clinic along San Marnan Drive and the announced $26 million expansion at Tyson Fresh Meats.

While Waterloo saw fewer single-family home starts this year, just 21 permits compared to 33 at the same point last year, Anderson noted the average value of those houses had jumped from $140,000 to $216,000.

Building activity in Cedar Falls also is running at about the same level as last year — about $55.7 million in new construction activity since July 1, compared with $55.3 million a year ago.

But the big news may not be what's already on the books as much as what's coming down the pike, city building official Craig Witry said. He projected another "$100-million-plus" valuation year for fiscal year 2017-18, as has been the case the past several years.

The only thing holding activity back is the weather.

"We're seeing a classic Iowa winter. That's when construction grinds to a halt," Witry said. However, he said, "I've got five projects on the board that are basically ready to go."

They include a remodeling of Buffalo Wild Wings in Holiday Plaza across reconstructed University Avenue from College Square mall; developer Brent Dahlstrom's proposed construction of a gym at 924 Viking Road; Dahlstrom's and Jim Sulentic's proposed residential-commercial development in the 200 block of West First Street; the Shakery, a new business locating in the reconstructed Great Wall building on College Hill; and the pending construction of a new city public safety building at the existing site of the south fire station at Bluebell Road and South Main Street.

More projects are possible further down the road, including the possible construction of a new Fareway grocery store and possible Kwik Star convenience store near South Main and Greehhill roads; an expansion of the Hilton Garden Inn in the Cedar Falls Industrial Park and the addition of a TownePlace Suites by Marriott extended stay hotel nearby; continuing development of Mark Kittrell's River Place development downtown with a new building at East Second and State streets; and a proposed Hampton Inn at West First and Main streets on the old Broom Factory restaurant and former Cedar Falls Chamber of Commerce sites.

Permits were taken out for more than 30 new homes since July 1, Witry said. The city has seen more than 100 new homes built a year for each of the past several years.

"The local contractors are really optimistic," Witry said, with some beginning hiring plans for later in the year.

Courier News Editor Pat Kinney contributed to this report.

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Waterloo City Reporter

Waterloo city reporter for the Courier

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