Waterloo approves urban grocery store plans - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo approves urban grocery store plans

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One local neighborhood is looking to the future with a much-needed investment.  The Waterloo City Council voted to approve plans for a local grocery store on Franklin Street, next door to the downtown CVS Pharmacy.  The store will be part of the Walnut Neighborhood.

During a nearly two-hour city council discussion, council members heard from two dozen people; everyone who spoke was in support of the grocery store.  The grocery store is a vision of Waterloo native, Rodney Anderson.  Anderson's goal is to build a grocery store that doesn't just sell food, but helps to build-up an area of town that has seen better decades.

"I see a lot of things in the community that I can help with. I didn't want to be a person that was going to be on the sidelines saying what I could have done. I want to be a person off the sidelines knowing what we have done together," said Rodney Anderson of Central Holdings, LLC.

Locally-owned and operated, the independent store plans to provide up to 80 jobs, something that many, including Boys & Girls Club CEO, Chuck Rowe, says is necessary.

"They can go to a grocery store where they can get jobs so that our job training can actually mean something, and they can eat healthy foods so they can live a long life. If we ever want to end the cycle of poverty for a lot of the kids that we work with at the club, we need to do something about it in the neighborhood," said Rowe.

The 26,000 square foot building will include a free community center and a family-style restaurant.  The developers will build on a lot that is currently empty, but plan to also knock down the 95-year-old House of Hope that sits on the corner of the block.  Knocking down House of Hope is something some in the neighborhood oppose, but House of Hope Executive Director, Karin Rowe, says the move will give them more space.

"House of Hope is not a building. We are a support system. We believe in the future of the families we serve.  We believe in the futures of the children. This grocery store is part of that future," said Rowe.

Central Holdings, LLC is partnering with the national non-profit, Uplift, that specializes in urban grocery stores, in order to help ensure the success of the store.  The project is receiving both tax increment financing over a 10-year-period, and a grant from the city.  The goal is to have the store open by next fall.

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