KWWL finishes $10M building renovation - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

KWWL finishes $10M building renovation

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One building, 100 years of history and its future is now set after a $10 million project.

The historic renovation of KWWL is now complete.

"There's been a lot of development on Franklin Street, there's been a lot of development in downtown Waterloo, and to take a 55,000 square foot building, and instead of leaving it empty and moving on somewhere else, we decided to stay and make the investment to bring this building back to life," said KWWL Vice President & General Manager Jim McKernan.

KWWL also brought the building back to its roots.

The exterior is almost identical to what the building looked like in 1916.

Back then, it was an Overland car distributor, feeding cars to dealerships and customers in 21 counties in eastern Iowa.

"Overland merged with Willys and it became Overland-Willys. Of course, Willys became the jeep that was made for World War II," said McKernan.

KWWL moved into the building in 1958, but in a way, Overland never left.

Its history was buried within the walls, something KWWL discovered during the demolition phase of the renovation project.

"(We found) the original transom window that was above the front door when the building opened for business in 1916. In about 1935, they remodeled the building, they removed that window, but instead of taking it out and getting rid of it, they just left it behind a wall," said McKernan.

That original window is now displayed in the finished renovation.

"We're very excited about the finish of the building. This has been the culmination of four years of very hard work. We didn't take the easy way. We took the hard way," said McKernan, who spelled out the process of getting the building placed on the National Register of Historic Places, securing state and federal tax credits and a development agreement with the city.

There were many moving parts over the past few years, including the continued operation of a broadcast facility while dealing with the distractions of construction.

McKernan says he's thrilled with the finished product.

"One of the things we were able to do with this renovation is create a state-of-the-art television broadcasting facility that's one of the best in the country."

The facility has a new newsroom built for today's media consumer, connecting KWWL's journalists with eastern Iowa and the world.

There's also a forecast center with the best tools for the KWWL StormTRACK 7 team to track storms.

A new studio also has multiple ways to showcase news.

All of it, state of the art, but done with the great history of KWWL and the building in mind.

"We decided to stay downtown and to make a statement that the television station believes in downtown Waterloo," said McKernan.

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