WATERLOO — The city is boosting its financial commitment to help bring a new grocery store to the Walnut Neighborhood.
Waterloo City Council members voted 5-0 Monday to award another $500,000 economic development grant for the planned All-In Grocers store, restaurant and community room near the intersection of U.S. Highway 63 and Franklin Street.
Central Property Holdings, a partnership between Rodney Anderson and Dan Levi, sought the additional incentive on top of the $400,000 grant, property tax rebates and land acquisition the city offered when the original agreement was approved in August 2017.
“The entire project has increased by approximately $1.5 million since we originally approached you,” said Levi, noting tariffs have boosted the cost of steel, the bidding environment was poor and the planned use of federal New Markets Tax Credits brought additional requirements.
Anderson said he and Levi were also putting in another $400,000 of their own equity into the 34,000-square-foot store, noting they believe in creating jobs in the area which has suffered historically from a lack of development.
“Unusual things have to happen to make a project like this happen where this project is happening,” Anderson said. “We could have easily went over the bridge and got this done quickly.”
Councilman Steve Schmitt supported the project but questioned whether the city was providing more than it would give to other projects.
Along with the $900,000 in grants and 80 percent tax rebates for 10 years, the city spend approximately $550,000 acquiring two lots to square off the project site. All of the costs are being applied to the city’s tax-increment financing district.
“Is this a typical arrangement?” Schmitt asked. “Would this be something we would extend to the Jacobs family restaurant? Would this be something we would extend to the Morrissey fine foods?”
Community Planning and Development Director Noel Anderson suggested the All-In Grocers project wasn’t typical and should include the impact it is having on other development efforts in the Walnut Neighborhood.
You have free articles remaining.
“It’s hard to compare when you’re doing infill redevelopment exactly ‘Is this typical?’” Anderson said. “When you start getting into the infill sites you’re looking at each one individually and saying, ‘What are we trying to accomplish here?’”
Councilwoman Margaret Klein said she believed the risk in supporting the project was worth it based on the number of people the store would serve.
Councilman Pat Morrissey said it was time something happened in a “so neglected, so overlooked” area of the city.
“These are not risks,” he said. “These are community projects to make us proud of our entire community.”
Resident and past mayoral candidate Wayne Nathem spoke against the additional grant.
“I hope you cut bait on this and not give that $500,000,” Nathem said. “I sort of question whether there’s ever going to be any brick and mortar on that place.”
Resident Todd Obadal suggested the city was not following tax-increment financing laws, claiming the city’s investment must be repaid within four years from taxes generated by the project. That won’t happen based on the expected value of the store.
Noel Anderson said he would review the law based on Obadal’s comments.
Councilman Bruce Jacobs said he supported the project but abstained from voting to avoid a potential conflict of interest in the future.