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Waterloo council OKs downtown condo project

Waterloo council OKs downtown condo project

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WATERLOO | Work on a $9 million, 70-unit downtown condominium complex in downtown Waterloo could begin this summer following City Council approval of a development agreement and land conveyance for the project Monday night.

Brent Dalhlstrom, head of Grand Investments, anticipates work could begin this summer pending completion of soil testing. It will be located at the former Grand Hotel site, at U.S. Highways 63 and 218 between the downtown Cedar Valley TechWorks and Cedar Valley SportsPlex.

"The city still has to get some environmental testing done. As soon as they're done with that," the project will proceed, Dahlstrom said.

"The worst case would be the start of next year, but with this weather, we'd really like to get in (the ground) in August," said Dahlstrom, noting the condos will take about a year to build.

He anticipates the condos will fill quickly based on similar developments.

"This type of building hasn't been built in Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Black Hawk County. It'd be hard to find this in Cedar Rapids," he said. "You might see something like this in downtown Des Moines, but that's as close as you'd get.

"If we start in summer, and finish next summer, we hope to have them filled by the end of next year," Dahlstrom said.

Future phases would involve commercial development and require additional city approval. He said the developers want to find a commercial tenant that fills city officials' desires.

He noted that Deere, with nearby facilities, has been "very positive" about the project in meetings on it.

"I don't see that changing," he added.

The development agreement the council approved Monday calls for the city to donate the land for the project and provide 42 percent property tax rebates for 20 years. Dahlstrom must maintain a minimum assessed value on the building of $6 million for the rebate period.

Planning staff said the first phase of the development would generate about $74,000 annually in taxes even with the rebates.

The city spent about $1 million to buy and demolish the Grand Hotel at 300 W. Mullan Ave. in July 2010 after the structure deteriorated into an eyesore.

The development agreement was approved on a 5-1 vote with council member Tom Lind voting no and council member Quentin Hart absent.

Lind indicated he had difficulty with the city granting a 20-year tax rebate on the project.

He also said he would have felt more comfortable if job-creation goals had been included with the project, as has been the case on some other economic development projects, usually industrial.

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