Waterloo, Ball State to partner for downtown redevelopment

Waterloo train depot sign

WATERLOO, Ind. (WANE) – Officials in the town of Waterloo want to give the downtown a makeover but they do not know where to start. The town has contracted a group of colleges students from Ball State University to help.

A group of graduate-level urban planning students will assess downtown and the potential as part of its Community Based Projects program. Many of the downtown buildings are vacant, including the once popular Hart’s Grocery Store. It was a staple in the community and its closing in 2015 has left a void.

Town officials also believe changing traffic patterns, demographics and expanded shopping opportunities in nearby communities have also negatively impacted downtown.

The Waterloo Redevelopment Commission took possession of the Hart’s grocery building at 205 N. Wayne Street, last year. Since the building was purchased, the Commission has met with developers to determine how to rehabilitate or rebuild the old store.

“We were hearing rumors that the building would be purchased and used for storage,” said Town Manager, Tena Woenker, said in a news release. “There are already potential retail and office spaces being used like that. Buying that building gives us some control of the destiny of this critical block downtown so we can make it active again.”

President of the Redevelopment Commission Sallie Pease and Professor Michael Burayidi will lead the Ball State University partnership.

“We’re excited about this project, and hope to get great ideas for how to re-develop the Hart’s block, as well as the rest of downtown.” said Pease. “It’s my hope that this project will help Waterloo regain its vibrancy while maintaining its small town charm.”

The group will visit Waterloo on January 16 to begin generating realistic ideas. They will gather input through research, public meetings, surveys and present their findings.

Waterloo Main Street and the Waterloo Redevelopment Commission will work together to implement selected projects once the analysis is complete.

The public will have an opportunity to weigh in during meetings scheduled January, February and April.

  • Jan. 23, 5:30 pm Waterloo Library, SWOT-V Analysis and Idea Session
  • January 24 – Feb. 10, take a survey online or at Town Hall
  • Feb. 20, 5:30 pm Waterloo Library, Public Meeting/survey results
  • April 17, 5:30 pm Waterloo Library, Ball State Student Presentation