Tenant ready to move in to former Rath admin building - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Tenant ready to move in to former Rath admin building

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

 One of eastern Iowa's lasting remnants showing the impact of the farm crisis may finally be getting a long-awaited makeover.

The owner of the former Rath Packing Plant administration building in Waterloo says he's found a tenant to move into the building.

It's a building that Waterloo historians pushed to save 7 years ago.

Now, it appears that nearly 100-year-old building will get new life.

Bruce DeBolt and Mako Waterloo bought the building from the city at a discount promising to fix it up and rent it out - sparing it from the wrecking ball.

Since then, not much has happened at the site.

As cars pass by the former Rath administration building, it appears time has passed the building by as well.

From the outside, it still looks to be in disrepair.

Boarded up windows, broken glass, just an old run-down building.

It's nothing like 1984 - just before Rath Packing closed for good during the farm crisis.

But now, the owner says an IT company wants to move in with groundwork starting later this summer.

"Get the heat, the utilities restored, keep the rain and the snow from coming in. Essentially create a box where you can maintain a controlled environment. That has not existed in that building for a number of years," said Bruce DeBolt, CEO of Mako Waterloo.

DeBolt has made some changes since taking ownership in 2008. There's a fence surrounding the building, the windows have been boarded up or taken out. Unfortunately, there wasn't much in the building when he took over. Vandals had taken out copper wiring and time had done a number on this building.

It had sat empty since 1985.

When the city was considering demolishing the building, the roof was in bad shape and it had become a home for pigeons.

Now, DeBolt says you may soon see results from the $8-10 million project to rehab the building.

"When you have a building that has no heat and has been open to the elements for a number of years, it takes a toll on it. The plaster deteriorates, ceilings rust and rupture. That is a shell. Within that shell, we will rebuild the building," said DeBolt.

DeBolt wouldn't name the IT company that plans to locate here in the building but said the company wants to take advantage of Iowa's infrastructure for data centers.

He said the company would like to move in now if it could.

As for a time frame, he says work to stabilize the building could be done by the end of the summer.

The company is taking advantage of local, state, and federal tax credits.

DeBolt says red tape and the economic downturn five years ago significantly delayed the project.

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