Downtown Waterloo credit union president responds to buyout deal - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Downtown Waterloo credit union president responds to buyout deal

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

The Waterloo City Council voted Monday night to buy the Iowa Community Credit Union building, located on 2nd Street, just off Highways 218 and 63.

It's the final property the city needed to acquire before construction can start on the future Cedar Valley Sportsplex.

Over the past week, the city has spent more than $1.2 million to buy-out, and relocate, the long-standing downtown business.

"The credit union is 57 years old, and we've been in downtown Waterloo the whole time," President and CEO of Iowa Community Credit Union Mark Heth said.

Heth said he and his fellow managers did not want to move, but plans for the Sportsplex -- centered on their lot -- left them with very little choice.

"October of 2010 is when they told us they wanted to take the credit union, since then we've looked at numerous sites with the City of Waterloo," Heth said.

Waterloo City Attorney Jim Walsh said, the time it took to agree on a buy-out may have been about more than finding a new location. He said a recent change in law gave the credit union the power to hold out for the absolute best offer.

"The amount paid was top dollar for the property involved," Walsh said. "If somebody holds out and we can't condemn, we're at the mercy of the seller. We either have to move the whole project or pay what they want."

Heth said, they took the first relocation offer they got.

"They said, they could work out a deal with Happy Chef. And would that work for us? And we agreed to it," he explained.

Last week, the city council purchased the nearby Happy Chef property for $450,000. The price was higher than the appraised value -- but Walsh believes council members paid it knowing it was a good fit for the credit union.

"Yes, that was the only reason they would have agreed to it," he said.

Monday night, the city approved an agreement to pay about $814,000 for the credit union site. They also voted to donate the Happy Chef property to the credit union and are including $60,000 to help the company relocate in the spring.

Heth admits, that's a lot of money, but he says they're not making a profit from moving out of the location they've been at for decades to a new spot down the road.

"That's what it costs to build a bank," he said. "We could have taken the money they offered us and went to South Waterloo or Cedar Falls, and we chose to stay in downtown Waterloo."

A public hearing to give the Happy Chef property to Iowa Community Credit Union is set for February 13th.

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