116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
More than 600 people expected to be in downtown Waterloo in September for Iowa League of Cities convention, but construction of the plaza at the convention center will not be fully done in time
WATERLOO — Frustration over construction at the downtown Waterloo convention center may end soon.
The Waterloo Convention Center’s plaza is set to be complete by early November, but not in time for a large convention coming to town, leading to frustration by city officials.
Worries surfaced at Monday’s City Council meeting as Waterloo is set to host an Iowa League of Cities gathering at the convention center from Sept. 28 to 30. The organization is a coalition of more than 850 cities in the state and is expected to bring around 600 people to the downtown area.
Construction on what will be known as Five Sullivan Brothers Plaza was originally scheduled to be finished Sept. 1, City Engineer Jamie Knutson said.
“You can’t walk down Fourth Street, and we’re going to have 600 people come to this city,” Waterloo Council member Dave Boesen said. “We’re the ambassadors, and we’re going to present them with a construction project.”
Brendon Wagner, the general manager of Spectra, the company that operates the venue, said one reason for the delay in construction was the discovery of an underground utility vault that required a redesign and change orders.
He said if one of the transformers in the vault was disrupted, buildings using the vault for power could have been down for a couple of weeks.
Crews began pouring concrete Wednesday, and Knutson said the site will be usable, but “all the pretties won’t be in” such as landscaping, benches and the five Sullivan brothers monument.
Construction on the outside of the plaza began earlier this year after Vieth Construction of Cedar Falls won the contract with a bid of $1.4 million.
The convention center and plaza will be part of the Veterans Way project. The initiative will connect new and existing veterans memorials as well as highlight the Fourth Street pedestrian bridge.
Outside the convention center there will eventually be a memorial. One side will feature the Sullivan family and the other side will focus on other veterans from the community. There also will be banners throughout the corridor featuring local veterans. Experience Waterloo plans to set up an interactive website of Veterans Way.
The Veterans Way project is expected to be complete by October. It is fully funded through donations from MidAmerican Energy, the Black Hawk Gaming Association and Waterloo Industrial Development Corporation, among others.