Waterloo steps up efforts to tear down eyesore buildings - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo steps up efforts to tear down eyesore buildings


A newer law makes it easier for cities to go after neglected or abandoned properties. Waterloo's been aggressive at taking ownership of bad buildings and tearing them down.  There's currently a renewed effort on demolitions, with high hopes for what happens next.

Bulldozers are becoming a more common site this fall in Waterloo as the city ramps up efforts to tear down buildings that have become eyesores in the community far too long.

"From a person driving by, it seems like no one's dealing with it, but typically there are tons of conversations behind the scenes.  So we're not just turning a blind eye to those areas," said Chris Western, Waterloo City Planner.

The city's goal isn't just to tear down old buildings, but also to return the properties to the tax rolls with new development.

In many cases, the cost of demolition is far less than the cost to repair.  The state program allows the city to take ownership of the property, tear down the structure, and sell the lot to a developer for just a buck.

In the case of an old church on Jefferson Street, a developer's paying for demo, in order to get the one dollar bargain lot price.

"It seems like you're just giving things away, but it is a win.  The taxes generated off the new construction will pay off the assessed value of that lot within probably five to six years," said Western.

Waterloo took a break from tearing down houses and commercial buildings for a while in order to fast-track demolitions needed for development of the Cedar Valley SportsPlex.

But the city's now back on its regular schedule with 17 more demolitions happening yet this year.  The surrounding neighborhoods take notice of these demos, too. 

"If you have one little thing wrong with your house, it doesn't seem as urgent to fix it because the house next door detracts so badly from you anyway.  But now that we get rid of those, you see people feeling it's worth it now to paint or spend time in the yard, and it's great to see," said Western.

Each year the city of Waterloo budgets about $150,000 for demolition of bad buildings, which pays for about 20 buildings to be torn down.

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