The former Rath Plant was once an integral part of Waterloo’s industrial capacity.  Located along the banks of the Cedar River, Rath was the largest meat-packing plant in the nation in 1941.  As production practices changed, companies eventually sought more modern facilities.  The company’s closing in 1985 left over 2,000,000 square feet of vacant industrial space and helped to foster the severe disinvestment in the area.  The Rath Redevelopment Area, consisting of the surrounding residential homes and commercial properties, has since rebounded.  The City of Waterloo aggressively recruited businesses back to the district, garnered federal and state money for redevelopment, and invested money in local infrastructure to rejuvenate the neighborhood back to its vibrant past.

Project Funding Sources

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Pilot Project Assessment Grant

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Supplemental Assistance Grant

$381,000 (Since 7/01/07)
United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Community Block Development Grant (CBDG)

City matched funds for Army Corps of Engineers
(Neighborhood Plan)

Economic Development Administration (EDA)

City of Waterloo Local 1 Cent Option Tax
Sycamore & 6th-8th St Reconstruction

Project Timeline

Crystal Distribution Services, Inc. signed a development agreement with the City of Waterloo.

Lafayette Park received a $500,000 Brownfield Economic Development Initiative grant.

07.2009 | ARTICLE
First steps taken towards creating a “Human Services Campus.”

01.2011 | ARTICLE
Operation Threshold to open its new location.

11.2012 | ARTICLE
New Cedar Valley Food Bank structure extends the organizations service capabilities.

11.2013 | ARTICLE
Women’s Center for Change ready to open its doors.

09.2022 | ARTICLE
$21 million Crystal Cold expansion project nearing completion.

Project Success Story

City officials facilitated the creation of a “Human Services Campus” in the Rath Brownfields Redevelopment Area by donating land and vacating a street in 2009.  These actions allowed several social-service providers to locate in close proximity.

The City purchased a commercial trucking operation at 123 Stanley Court in 2011 as part of a development agreement to relocate the Cedar Valley Food Bank.  The organization constructed a new, more accessible $6.5 million building for its users in 2012.  The 45,000 square-foot facility features an efficient freezer and cooling area, a full-service kitchen, and a community room.  The donation center has 200 member agencies and serves approximately 40,000 people from 16 different Iowa counties annually.

Operation Threshold constructed a new $3.9 million central office building at 1535 Lafayette Street after 2008 flooding damaged its downtown facility.  Operation Threshold is a local Community Action Agency that serves Black Hawk, Buchanan, and Grundy counties and provides services such as the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Women with Infant Children (WIC), Weatherization, Housing and Fair Lending Counseling, and Family Development services.  The 27,671 square-foot building will provide its users with an additional 10,000 square-feet of space compared to its former location.  Operation Threshold hired 25 individuals in conjunction with the move.

The Iowa Department of Correction’s Waterloo Women’s Center for Change is a new $6 million facility located at 1515 Lafayette Street.  The 45-bed halfway house, completed in 2011, is designed to increase the number of women served by community-based corrections and to ease overflow conditions at other Waterloo locations.  The Center for Change created 19 new jobs upon its opening.

The City entered into a development agreement with Crystal Distribution Services, Inc. to construct a refrigerated food processing facility expansion in November 2012.  The $2 million building will double the company’s current refrigerated storage capabilities which were damaged during a 2008 flood event.  The 11,000 square-foot project opened in 2013.  The company originally purchased and renovated nearly 600,000 sq. ft. of a former Rath Meat Packing Plant building for its cold storage and warehousing operations. The site also serves as the location for their Superintendent’s Office.  Crystal Cold (formerly Crystal Distribution Services, Inc.) constructed a $21 million expansion in 2021-2022.  The 100,000 square feet of food refrigeration storage and operation space will create up to 75 new jobs on the property.

East 10th Street, a major road in the Rath Redevelopment Area, recently had six sections of road rebuilt between Franklin and Sycamore Streets. The wider road allows for heavier trucking traffic through the area which is essential to spur economic redevelopment.