Breaking ground and bringing hope to the Walnut Neighborhood - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Breaking ground and bringing hope to the Walnut Neighborhood

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A large project near downtown Waterloo broke ground on Monday.

The All-In Grocers and Grandma's Hands Restaurant are set to start building next to the CVS on Franklin Street in the Walnut Neighborhood.

It may have taken several tries and a few helping hands, but the Walnut Neighborhood is bouncing back, and the grocery store project is part of the rebirth.

"This neighborhood is coming to life. You see, it use to be full of homes, but now the homes are gone. Now, we are getting business. Fourth Street use to be, oh, that was like New York City. But now, little by little, we are going to get it together," said Willie Mae Wright.

Wright is a longtime Walnut resident, activist, and community leader. Developers Dan Levi and Rodney Anderson announced earlier this year that the community room inside the store will be named after Wright.

"This is not an urban store, this is a community beacon for the City of Waterloo and Cedar Falls, if they want to shop here," said Anderson.

For many, including Waterloo natives Anderson and Mayor Quentin Hart, this is more than a new project that will provide jobs and nutritional options in a food desert.  It's also about giving back to a neighborhood they grew up a part of.

"I use to go to the Boys and Girls Club almost everyday that it was open. So, to be able to see all this is a tremendous opportunity," said Mayor Hart.

The All-In Grocers and Grandma's Hands Restaurant are expected to open in November.

The project is one of several underway in the area, including a new Boys and Girls Club center for teens, Habitat for Humanity homes, and JSA Development's historic renovations.

Several new businesses, including the Speller Hardware Store and Harold's Chicken, have also invested in the neighborhood recently.

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