Waterloo continues housing tax breaks, encourages development - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo continues housing tax breaks, encourages development

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The city of Waterloo will continue to roll out tax breaks for another five years to encourage new home construction. 

During Monday night's meeting, City council voted unanimously to renew the City Limits Urban Revitalization Area (CLURA). The tax abatement program, which started in 2011, will continue to provide tax breaks for newly constructed homes. 

A number of area realtors, including Amy Wienands came to Monday night's meeting to encourage council to renew CLURA. Wienands says the city's tax abatement program has leveled the playing field when keeping buyers in Waterloo. 

"It's definitely a tool that we use daily to sell homes in Waterloo and to sell new construction," said Wienands. "For example, this is probably a $600,000 home. The abatement will save them-over the life of the abatement-will save them about $30-35,000. It was a big decision for them whether to do this or to go to Cedar Falls."

Wienands says they face some challenges when selling Waterloo, one of which being most buyers gravitate towards school districts with a history of academic recognition. The other challenge is a large portion of their buyers are millennials.

"Under the age of 34, 35 right, and they're looking at new," said Wienands. "They do not want maintenance. They don't want huge yards. They just want to walk in and they want to live their life not tied to a house. Not tied to the maintenance of a house."

According to Wienands, and other realtors who spoke to council, these tax incentives are the deciding factor for many, including homeowners in the new neighborhood of Audobon Heights. 

Wienands says the program has played a major role in keeping the momentum of the housing development in Waterloo alive. 

"The proof is just in the facts that if you drive through Nottingham and Yellowstone and Audobon Heights you see it," said Wienands. "I mean it's progress. Two or three years ago, five years ago-none of that existed."

During the meeting, council members addressed the future of existing housing that needs significant work. Councilman Pat Morrissey acknowledged there needs to be a more aggressive plan for the vacant homes in Waterloo that have been neglected. 

The tax abatement program will now extend through 2022. 

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