New homes revitalizing east Waterloo neighborhood - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New homes revitalizing east Waterloo neighborhood

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

An east Waterloo neighborhood is seeing new signs of life.  A handful of brand new homes are being built near 8th and Lafayette Streets.  It's part of a city partnership with a local contractor.  The city hopes these new homes will help stabilize a neighborhood that's struggled to thrive for years. 

Three new homes are being built right now at 8th and Lafayette on Waterloo's east side.  It's the continuation of the city's neighborhood stabilization program, made possible through federal grant money.

Five homes already being occupied are the first to be finished in this neighborhood project.  It's a unique partnership between former Waterloo mayor and contractor John Rooff and the city.

"What I did was start out thinking I'd build a couple of spec homes.  It really caught on.  There's a real need for this moderately priced home," said John Rooff, owner of Black Hawk Co. Contracting & Development.

Once the homes are built, the city actually takes ownership of the property and sells it.  Rooff is thrilled to be bringing life back to a neighborhood that hasn't seen new construction in almost one hundred years!

"We've got to energize the neighborhoods, which I think we did.  Now, it's getting better and picking up," said Rooff.

In fact, new apartments are being built just up the street near the Cedar River.  The growth is helping bring up the image of Waterloo's east side, while adding value to the city's tax rolls.

"Once the opportunity is shown, people really pick up," Rooff said.

Rooff is already looking at other parts of town for developing similar projects.

Just this week, the city council approved a development agreement to build even more new homes, this time townhouses, just across the street in the same neighborhood along Lafayette. 

The city of Waterloo also continues its aggressive program to demolish run-down properties.  Roughly $150,000 is budgeted each year for tearing down about 20 buildings, with the goal of making way for new development that also adds new value to the tax rolls.

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