Waterloo revitalizes riverfront with RiverLoop redevelopment
Our Town Waterloo is home to businesses old and new, offering a diverse downtown experience. If you haven't been to the area in a few years, you might be impressed with the changes.
"Slowly but surely, we're filling up those storefronts and getting a nice variety of different types of businesses in downtown,” Jessica Rucker, Executive Director of Main Street Waterloo, said.
Along one side of the Cedar River, you’ll find the RiverLoop Amphitheatre and Expo, with a variety of museums, amenities and entertainment options for families. Across the river, you'll find several new businesses offering everything from greeting cards to German brew.
“It has been an amazing couple of years for downtown Waterloo,” Rucker said.
The goal of Main Street Waterloo is preserving the past with an eye on the future. Rucker says downtown is full of success.
“Last year we had 33 businesses open in the downtown area and so far this year we've already had nine open their doors, with I believe 7 that will open before the middle of summer," Rucker said. "The businesses that are currently here have been our biggest cheerleaders. They're telling their friends and other people they know who want to open a business that downtown is the place to be.”
Jim Walsh, the owner of Anton’s Garden, agrees.
"Waterloo is where it's all happening. Downtown here is reawakening as many urban centers are in Iowa.”
Walsh opened his business in May. It’s a beer garden, named for his great-grandfather who arrived in the U.S. from Germany in 1852.
"Great-grandpa Anton was known to be fond of the beer," Walsh said. "We thought we'd try to recognize his memory a little bit with something fun."
Along with several buildings downtown, Walsh owned this park and wanted to give people another option for outdoor seating that's bike and kid-friendly. It's been a popular weekend addition.
"More people than I thought, looking for a place to sit outside,” Walsh said.
All of this redevelopment has made the heart of Waterloo more attractive for more than just a visit.
"It's such a diverse place, such a great commerce, and we’re seeing people moving downtown,” Quentin Hart, Waterloo Mayor, said.