UofIowaWaterloo wrote:Another good picture of the area is on the Waterloo Brownfields Redevelopment website at http://www.thenewwaterloo.com/tour.php. It's under the Rath Redevelopment area project.;
Sunday, September 14, 2008 6:23 AM CDT
Rath HQ seeks tag as historic landmark
By TIM JAMISON, Courier Staff Writer
WATERLOO --- A developer hoping to breathe new life into the former Rath Administration Building is working to get the building on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Waterloo Historic Preservation Commission and the Planning, Programming and Zoning Commission have both recommended approving the request, which will be placed before the City Council Monday. Ultimately, the State Historical Society of Iowa and the National Park Service would make the final determination of the building's eligibility.
"We're happy to see the historic preservation aspects are moving forward," said Bruce DeBolt, chief executive officer of Mako Waterloo Corp., which plans to fix up the long-vacant building at 1515 Sycamore St. under a development agreement with the city.
DeBolt said the National Register designation is an important step in getting state historic tax credits to help with the renovation costs.
"We have had some developments within the state historic tax credits program which are a concern to us," he added. "But we're hopeful that it can be resolved."
The building has been vacant since 1985 when Rath Packing Co. went bankrupt. Most of the buildings at the former meatpacking operation were reused or demolished. But the city had been unable to find a developer to take over the Administration Building, which became an eyesore and vandalism target.
DeBolt, of Vista, Calif., stepped up within the last year to save the building from the wrecking ball.
Under a development agreement approved by the City Council last January, Mako Waterloo gets the building and surrounding property for $1 but must make an estimated $1.5 million in roof repairs; installing heating, cooling and electrical systems in the building; repairing windows; resurfacing the parking lot; and landscaping the property.
The "white boxing" is designed to make it attractive for DeBolt to market the site to tenants. DeBolt is doing a similar historic renovation of the vacant Badgerow Building in downtown Sioux City, noting the combination of buildings helps leverage his marketing efforts.
Before those renovation efforts begin, the city must remove asbestos from the Rath building. A $237,000 contract has been awarded to Advanced Environmental Testing and Abatement of Waterloo to remove the material this fall and next spring.
"We're eager to move forward," DeBolt said. "Obviously we're held up until the abatement process is complete at which point we'd be looking forward to undertaking the (renovation) process. From that end, it's taking a little longer than everyone had hoped."
A report prepared by a Des Moines-based historic preservation consulting firm, History Pays!, suggests the Rath Administration Building could qualify for the National Register.
"The Rath Packing Company Administration Building is individually significant on the state and local levels on the basis of its historical association with the Rath Packing Company," the report states. "That company was at its zenith the largest meat-packing plant in the United States and it played a key role in the development of agricultural-related industry in Waterloo and the region."
The initial core of the building was constructed in 1925 for about $150,000. John G. Miller was the construction contractor and John S. Bartley was the architect. Records indicate the entire Rath plant shut down on April 21, 1925, for the laying of the building's cornerstone.
The building received side additions in 1940 and 1951. In 1944, the adjacent Adams grocery store building was incorporated into the structure. That grocery store eventually wound up, through the course of several moves and consolidations, locating at West Ninth and Mitchell streets in a building now occupied by Hometown Foods.
Contact Tim Jamison at (319) 291-1577 or email@example.com.
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