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Waterloo eyes new grant program to save Church Row building

Waterloo eyes new grant program to save Church Row building

WATERLOO — The city hopes a state grant program will help save a blighted building in the Church Row Historic Neighborhood.

Waterloo City Council members have approved a request to the Iowa Economic Development Authority for $100,000 to help a private owner renovate a 110-year-old building at 1427-1429 W. Third St.

City Planner Aric Schroeder said the previous owner was talking about donating the building to the city for demolition before the renovation opportunity arose.

“It is in very rough shape,” Schroeder said. “It actually had bricks falling onto the sidewalk at one point in time.”

The two-story brick building on the corner of West Third and Bayard streets most recently housed a bakery on the main floor but is now vacant. The proposed renovation would restore commercial space on the first floor and create three residential apartments.

The City Council has approved a pre-application for the project to the IEDA’s Community Catalyst Building Remediation Program, which was created in 2018 to help renovate underutilized buildings to spur development.

“I really have high hopes for this,” said Councilwoman Margaret Klein, who applauded the owner, Deer Acres LLC, for looking to save the historic building.

The grant program provides up to $100,000 per project, but only one building per city is eligible each year. It also earmarks at least 40% of the annual funding to cities with populations under 1,500 people.

Waterloo did not submit a project during the first two years of the program.

“It’s a state grant program that is a little bit more geared towards redevelopment opportunities in the smaller communities,” Schroeder said. “We may be a little bit of a long-shot here.”

Mason City is the largest of 50 communities receiving grants through the program during its first two rounds.

Cities must make the applications to the IEDA even though a building is privately owned. Local governments are also expected to provide financial or in-kind resources to a project.

The city of Waterloo already has a policy in place providing $5,000 each for the successful renovation or construction of new residential units in designated areas, which would generate $15,000 in matching funds for the proposed building.

That agreement is slated to be considered Monday by the City Council.

If the IEDA approves of the Waterloo project, the city will be invited to make a formal application in April.

Staffer Tim Jamison’s memorable 2019 stories.

Courier Reporter Tim Jamison's most memorable stories of 2019

It wasn't always the most important news of the day that stood out to me this year. For the most part, these stories were the ones that reminded me that newspapers play an important role in informing and connecting our community.

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Tim Jamison has covered city government in Waterloo since 1991.

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