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WATERLOO | Historic preservation concerns could derail plans to move a shelter for homeless single mothers.

Members of the Waterloo City Council's building and grounds committee have tabled for four weeks a request from House of Hope to acquire a dilapidated city-owned house at 519 E. Third St.

Ward 3 Councilman Pat Morrissey said he was troubled by the agency's plans to demolish the structure and a privately owned adjacent house at 515 E. Third St. for a new 12-plex for House of Hope tenants. Both homes are 120 years old.

"I think these are two properties in an area that should have a historical designation," Morrissey said. "I would be opposed to tearing down either of these stately old homes."

Councilman Steve Schmitt suggested the idea should be vetted by the city's Historic Preservation Commission first.

"I'd just like to make sure we have a full conversation," he said.

Barbara Dee, House of Hope's executive director, said the agency had contractors look at renovating the houses but was told such a project would be too expensive. The agency still needs to raise money for its project.

"If we don't secure these we'll have to look outside the Walnut neighborhood," she said.

Community Planning and Development Director Noel Anderson said the house at 519 E. Third is in "horrible condition" and was slated to be demolished.

A private buyer approached the city about salvaging portions of the structure to be relocated to a new home out of town. That buyer is having problems due to the condition of the home and will be asking the city soon to cancel the contract, he added.

House of Hope, a Christian-based transitional housing program for single mothers and their children, has two facilities on Walnut Street. The brick structure at 222 Walnut St. is more than 100 years old and may not remain viable much longer.

The city is also interested in acquiring 222 Walnut, which is on the block that includes the new CVS Pharmacy. The city and developers are interested in luring additional retail activity to the site, which is at the intersection of U.S. Highway 63 and Franklin Street.

Mayor Buck Clark said there has been interest from retail developers in that location, but the House of Hope's brick house was a deterrent.

The council's building and grounds committee is expecting to take up the issue again Nov. 3.

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Waterloo City Reporter

Waterloo city reporter for the Courier

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