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HR Green Helps Transform Former Wonder Bread Factory into Exciting New Brewery

Waterloo, IA

The former Wonder Bread factory located in downtown Waterloo, Iowa, shuttered its operations in November 2012 amidst bankruptcy proceedings. Built in 1927, the vacant building occupied an entire block within the community’s urban core adjacent to numerous public facilities including the library, hockey arena, children’s museum, and public market. City officials immediately worked with several key stakeholders, including the historic preservation committee and Main Street Waterloo, to identify a potential re-use for the 0.94-acre site; however, contamination concerns created anxieties for potential investors. Historical uses surrounding the site included an engine manufacturer, gas stations, dry cleaner, and bulk oil company. Environmental uncertainties caused the looming facility to quickly degrade into an eyesore.

The City contracted HR Green to complete Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) and proper closure of two large underground storage tanks in 2014. This work allowed the City to satisfy its CERCLA due diligence prior to acquiring the property. More importantly, the investigations did not identify any impairment and thus cleared the former bakery for redevelopment. HR Green was able to help Waterloo secure $23,000 from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Section 128-A program for the referenced Phase I ESA and an asbestos survey/abatement as part of the process.

The massive rehabilitation of the former Wonder Bread factory – returned to its 1950s glory and LEED-certified – is now complete. It re-opened its doors in April 2017 as Single Speed Brewing Co. featuring a beer production operation, restaurant, tap room, and coffee shop while guaranteeing to maintain at least $3 million in assessed value. This transformative project is only one of numerous efforts currently underway that are revitalizing a once-declining central business district.

As Waterloo’s preferred environmental consultant, HR Green has worked with staff to identify, prioritize, assess, conduct redevelopment planning and remediation activities (when necessary) on several key parcels. In fact, our firm has helped the City secure 14 EPA Brownfields Grants totaling $2.65 million since 2000. These efforts have produced the conversion of a vacant machinery manufacturer into a $7.4 million Public Works Department facility, the construction of a $7 million riverfront condominium project in a historically light industrial neighborhood, and the citing of a $27.5 million city-owned recreation center on several former auto-oriented businesses and vacant structures impacted by flooding all within the past five years. Reinvesting in these once-neglected properties directly benefits the community by providing increases to the local tax base, facilitating job growth, and protecting human health and the environment. Visit Waterloo’s project website (www.thenewwaterloo.com) to review more of our collaborative efforts.


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