American Legion gains new home as building is demolished - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

American Legion gains new home as building is demolished

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It was a bittersweet day for the members of the American Legion on Franklin Street in Waterloo.

The demolition of their old building comes as part of a project to restore the KWWL building.

The restoration is part of a city push to bring new life to the downtown area.

Walls tumbling, bricks crumbling and loud crashes mark some of the first visible steps towards the renovation of the KWWL building, which has historic value to Waterloo. 

But before the Legion building was torn down, the city was dedicated to making sure its veterans were not forgotten.

"Wasn't going to happen without working with and in conjunction with the American Legion to make sure they found an adequate building and something that could replace the building that they have," said Mayor Buck Clark.

Veterans have been working hard to renovate an old bar on Commercial Street. With a new roof, flooring, electrical wiring and ceilings, the new location will be an improvement on the former building.

"What we are planning is, of course, opening this bar in a few days so we can have a some revenues coming in, instead of thousands going out," said Dale Hixson of the American Legion. "Then, we start on phase two -- which is the back room, meeting rooms -- and we rent it out for weddings, then we are going to put a kitchen in."

But among all the new comes glimpses of the old Legion.

The wood displayed in the bar was taken from the other building, and artwork and photos display the Legion's history.

Although there is lots of work left to do, Mayor Clark said, "We think that in the end, this is going to be a great partnership between KWWL, the American Legion, and the City of Waterloo."

The Legion has passed their health and building inspections and expect to have their liquor license by next Wednesday. They hope that they will be able to open their doors at the end of next week.

And the demolition and clean-up at the old location will continue Tuesday. Crews brought in trucks Monday evening to start clearing away the debris.

The renovation and restoration of the KWWL building is part of a large push by the city to improve the businesses and neighborhoods along Franklin Street.

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