WATERLOO — The city is looking for a new developer to save the historic Rath Administration Building.

The Waterloo Planning and Zoning Office this week issued a formal request for proposals from those interested in restoring 1515 Sycamore St., which once served as the headquarters of former Rath Packing Co. but has been vacant and deteriorating for more than 30 years.

The city regained title to the building in November 2017 after a California-based developer failed to restore it under a previous agreement approved by the City Council.

“We have actually been contacted by some reputable housing developers in recent months that have other active projects in Iowa,” said Community Planning and Development Director Noel Anderson. “So (they have) a good track record and good setup to move ahead.

“They have all mentioned trying to use Iowa Finance Authority tax credits for their respective ideas, so we would have another hoop in place to see progress and try to move ahead on this,” he added.

Adrienne Miller, the city’s economic development specialist, said the request was sent Tuesday to those who have expressed interest, local developers and real estate agents. It is also posted on the city’s website.

Sealed proposals, expected to include details of the planned development and financing sources, are due by Oct. 26.

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“The city’s goal is to work towards the best redevelopment of this site for the overall use of the area, and uses that may occur on those grounds, as well as providing for services in the surrounding areas of Waterloo,” Miller said.

The request for proposals states: “While the purchase price will not be sole determining factor, it will be an important part of the equation in conjunction with other criteria to assure the city is serving the citizenry in a fair and beneficial manner.”

The four-story building was constructed in 1925 and saw additions in 1940 and 1950. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the few remaining Rath Packing Co. buildings still standing.

The city acquired the administration building in 1985 when Rath was liquidated through bankruptcy proceedings. But city officials were unable to find a buyer to take it over as vandals and squatters caused heavy damage.

The city was preparing for demolition in 2008 when Bruce DeBolt, of Carlsbad, Calif., stepped forward with a $1.5 million plan to stabilize the building for potential tenants.

Property was deeded to DeBolt, who began renovating the building but ultimately failed to complete the work and did not pay property taxes owed on the structure. A judge awarded title back to the city when DeBolt declined to voluntarily return it.

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Waterloo City Reporter

Waterloo city reporter for the Courier

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