Iowa City to Donate Blighted Houses for Data Center Project

The city of Waterloo has approved a development agreement that will clear four dilapidated houses to make way for two data centers. The city is donating the land and will be demolishing the homes.

by Tim Jamison Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier / June 5, 2019
Waterloo, Iowa Shutterstock

(TNS)  — The city will tear down four dilapidated houses to make way for two data centers in a near westside neighborhood.

Waterloo City Council members voted 7-0 Monday to approve a development agreement with South Front Networks LLC of Mankato, Minn., to construct its facilities in the 1400 block of Commercial Street.

The city is donating the lots for the project, which is expected to have a $200,000 assessed value, and also agreed to demolish the homes occupying the lots as soon as possible.

“This is a great use of our blight elimination policies we’ve been working on,” said Community Planning and Development Director Noel Anderson.

“It will raise the taxable value of the site by about 10 times what it was before.”

The city seized houses at 1420, 1422 and 1426 Commercial through court orders after they were deemed to be abandoned nuisances.

The buildings appear to be beyond repair and have lots littered with junk.

Council members then approved buying 1430 Commercial St. for $20,000 last year, which squared off the 13th Street corner for development.

Representatives of South Front Networks were not immediately available for comment. The firm’s website indicates it builds and operates regional carrier-neutral fiber optic networks in Minnesota and Iowa.

The company has data centers in Albert Lea, Minn., Mason City, Iowa Falls and Davenport.

Anderson said company officials first indicated interest in the Northeast Industrial Park, but settled on the Commercial Street location due to its access to a fiber optic cable.

The city isn’t providing property tax rebates for the project, but the buildings are eligible for tax abatements under the city’s Consolidated Urban Revitalization Area program.

©2019 Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.