The RiverLoop Public Market Co-op in downtown Waterloo.

WATERLOO — The city is seeking a tenant for its downtown RiverLoop Public Market Building.

The building at 327 W. Third St. on the RiverLoop Expo Plaza has been empty since its original tenant, a grocery and restaurant cooperative, folded up shop at the end of September 2016.

Community Planning and Development Director Noel Anderson said his office is preparing to seek formal proposals from businesses or other users interested in leasing the building from the city.

Members of the City Council’s building and grounds committee generally supported the move when it was discussed at a Dec. 18 meeting.

“The space is currently empty,” Anderson said. “The city would like to see it reused. But we’d like to see it reused for a very positive purpose.

“We’ve had a lot of interested parties talking to us about it,” he added.

The former lawn care building was renovated for $1 million as part of a $5.7 million public investment in the downtown two-block RiverLoop Expo Plaza starting in 2007.

A Community Attractions and Tourism grant for the project required the building to be used as a public market for at least five years and prevents it from being sold outright until 2028.

The grocery cooperative fulfilled the five-year CAT grant requirement before shutting down after it was unable to remain financially viable.

Anderson said he expects any proposals received from tenants would be evaluated not only on potential lease payments but also on the use of the building, which has played a key role in providing restrooms and staging areas for events on the surrounding plaza.

“We are interested in seeing the symbiotic relationship, the compatible relationship with the Expo grounds,” he said. “This is a key location in downtown, in terms of the Expo Plaza and being in the Five Sullivan Brothers (Convention Center) area.”

Councilman Steve Schmitt had questioned whether there was still interest in using the building as a grocery store since private investors are planning to construct a supermarket near the downtown area at Franklin Street and U.S. Highway 63.

Anderson noted the Public Market Building, at just 7,700 square feet, is small for grocery uses. But he said the answer to Schmitt’s question will come through the request-for-proposals process.

Planning staff had not set a date yet as to when it would begin accepting proposals. Parties interested in the building may want to contact the Planning and Zoning Office in City Hall to be in the loop when the requests are sent out.

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