WATERLOO — One of the city’s first production bakeries will be renovated to house businesses and upscale loft apartments.
Waterloo City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a $300,000 grant and property tax rebates to help Cedar Valley Real Estate LLC revitalize the three-story building at 300-304 Commercial St.
“The condition of it today is very poor,” said Kade Hoppenworth, who is partnering with Dan Cooley to fix up the building which has been vacant for more than five years.
“It’s going to take a sizable investment,” Hoppenworth added. “Projects like this wouldn’t even be possible” without city support.
The building was constructed in 1911 by Bohemian immigrant Wenzel Friedl, who later sold it to the Peerless Baking Co. Peerless was acquired by the Campbell Baking Co. across Commercial Street, which eventually became the Hostess Brands property now occupied by SingleSpeed Brewing Co.
“It has quite a bit of historic value in downtown Waterloo,” Hoppenworth said. “This was technically the predecessor of the Wonder Bread factory.”
Cooley said the developers have a franchise interested in occupying part of the first floor commercial space, which would create an estimated 35 jobs. The upper two floors would have a dozen upscale loft apartments.
The project is located in a prime location within walking distance of the Cedar Valley SportsPlex, Waterloo Center for the Arts, Waterloo Public Library, Young Arena and RiverLoop Expo and Amphitheater.
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Two residents questioned the size of the investment package, with has the city kicking in $300,000 and providing 70 percent property tax rebates in return for the minimum assessed value on the property jumping from $300,000 to $1.3 million.
Community Planning and Development Director Noel Anderson said it will take about 17 years for the city to recoup the $300,000 investment in the property taxes paid.
“But a $2.8 million investment in Waterloo by the developers is also going to work to bring new jobs here with the first floor being commercial, new residents here with the next two floors being residential,” Anderson said.
Resident Forest Dillavou said any increases in the taxes paid by the project won’t help pay for essential city services like police and fire protection because it was located in a downtown tax-increment financing district.
“The poor get poorer and the rich get richer, and this is how we help them do that,” Dillavou said.
Councilman Bruce Jacobs questioned the available parking in that area.
While the building itself has 27 off-street parking stalls, the city is also planning to reconstruct the arts center parking lot across the street to add 100 spaces and is expecting to provide additional parking along West Second Street when it is rebuilt.