CEDAR FALLS -- The man responsible for the renovation of a centerpiece of the revitalization of downtown Cedar Falls has died.
Dan Tindall, a Grinnell architect of statewide influence who purchased and renovated the historic BlackHawk Hotel, 115 Main St., 15 years ago and was a stalwart of historic preservation on many other projects downtown, passed away Thursday in Des Moines at age 68 after a long illness, hotel staff and officials with Cedar Falls Community Main Street said.
Tindall was a longtime resident of Grinnell, where he and his wife, Kathy, operated an architectural firm, and most recently moved to Des Moines. Though he never resided in Cedar Falls, former Cedar Falls Community Main Street director Cary Darrah said he and Kathy were enchanted with Cedar Falls from the day they first visited to ride on the Cedar Valley recreational trails system.
Strolling down the Main Street Parkade, the Tindalls stopped at Cedar Falls Community Main Street offices, where then-director Cary Darrah was working.
"They loved the trails and loved the community," Darrah said. Later Darrah invited Tindall to come back as a consultant to look at renovating the hotel and consult with other local businesses. He ended up buying it in 2002.
Despite some local skepticism, Tindall applied for and achieved designation for the hotel on the National Register of Historic Places. Work began on the second floor of the main building and by the beginning of 2003, work had commenced on the third floor. The phased renovation -- in the same block as the Oster Regent Theatre, renovated and restored a decade earlier -- helped to change the entire character of Main Street.
The BlackHawk Hotel, on behalf of the Tindalls, was awarded the 2003 Redevelopment Investor Award presented by the City of Cedar Falls and the Chamber of Commerce. Remodeling continued over the next several years. The project received the 2006 Iowa Architectural Foundation's Community Design Excellence Award.
The Cedar Falls Tourism Bureau and Waterloo Convention and Visitor’s Bureau selected the BlackHawk Hotel as the Cedar Valley “Hotel of the Year” in 2009. The hotel was named the 2010 Courier Communications Best of the Best, Top Hotel.
Current Cedar Falls Community Main Street director Carol Lilly said Tindall mentored her when she succeeded Darrah 10 years ago, served on Community Main Street's Design Review Committee and also was part of a group who saved the old post office and former City Hall Annex building from demolition. He and the hotel continued to be a resource for other similar projects downtown.
"He's been part of the economic development through historic preservation movement for a long time," Lilly said. "The BlackHawk Hotel was one of the catalysts that helped downtown Cedar Falls progress into the dynamic district that we have today."
Lilly also noted Tindall was very involved in Main Street Iowa. In 2013, that organization awarded Tindall its "Spirit of Main Street Award."
"Dan has been a mentor of mine since I entered in the Iowa’s Main Street and historic preservation world over 15 years ago," said Michael Wagler, Main Street Iowa state coordinator. "Dan taught me so much about the realities of downtown development that you only learn by being in the trenches of the work.
"One thing I loved about working with Dan in communities was his ability to challenge the community to think about why they are doing something, or why they can’t do something, or lead the charge to implement that idea that everyone loves but maybe doesn’t think it is possible," Wagler said.
The BlackHawk and other Main Street businesses hung blue lights last week in tribute to Tindall upon hearing news of his passing.
Prior to his death, Tindall was in the process of selling the hotel to developer Mark Kittrell, who is involved with the River Place project on State Street downtown. Kittrell said the purchase has yet to be finalized but is in process and said Tindall was alert, active and upbeat almost up to the day of his passing.
"Obviously he put a lot of time and blood and sweat in that old hotel," Kittrell said. "He wanted to make sure the hotel kept going and was the centerpiece of downtown it always has been. We're honored to be able to help do it."
Downtown property owners and businesses are planning a memorial event for Tindall in Cedar Falls.
"He was a great guy. He will be missed," Kittrell said.