River Renaissance Walk

River Renaissance Walk

Participants will park at the TechWorks Campus and begin their walk no later than 11:45 in order to arrive for the noon program at the RiverLoop Expo Plaza.  Participants may enjoy lunch at one of the food trucks before making the second half of their loop back to TechWorks. This route highlights the recent streetscape projects, redevelopment, and public art along the Cedar River recreation trail.  Estimated time: two 15 minute walks (1.6 miles total) looping to and from parking.River

Cedar Valley TechWorks & Courtyard Marriott
TechWorks Campus is an advanced manufacturing, research and development, innovation, education, commercial, and manufacturing center situated in the historic John Deere Tractor Company R Building located on a 30-acre Brownfield site.  The facility serves as a “public-private sandbox” and serves as a regional hub for industry-academic collaborations, especially within the metal casting industry.  TechWorks is aligned with higher education institutions Hawkeye Community College and the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) providing skilled training in applied advanced manufacturing.  TechWorks currently houses Grow Cedar Valley, the Cedar Valley Makerspace, Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Network Hub, Productive Resources, the UNI Additive Manufacturing & Design Center, and Lincoln Savings Bank.

At the peak of John Deere’s production in the 1950s, the R Building was an integral piece of the manufacturing plant’s vertical production process.  Deere & Company built the C2 Building to expand its production line and continue its extended growth in the industry.  In the 1970s, Deere & Company shifted their production efforts to more horizontal strategies and moved their productions toward Donald St. and near the northeastern edge of the city. 

Both R and C2 buildings both still stand today, with the backdrop of John Deere’s new manufacturing facility in the distance.  The C2 Building has been granted historical significance and opened in 2017 as the Courtyard Marriott Hotel at TechWorks.

Adjacent to the R and C2 buildings is the John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum.  Visitors can learn about the American company that grew to become a global leader in agricultural equipment.  The museum features history of John Deere tractors and engines with hands-on displays, rare artifacts, antique tractors, and much more.

Grand Crossing Development
Grand Crossing Development is a new multiuse complex encompassing multiple buildings.  The Phase I building is a 68-unit apartment building with heated underground parking, bar and lounge area, and workout facility.  Phase II is a mixed-use property with high-end apartments above, while the main floor is home to businesses like Jimmy John’s and Sidecar Coffee.  The new development is located on the site of the former Grand Hotel which was severely damaged in the flood of 2008 and ultimately demolished in 2011.

Hawkeye Community College Van G. Miller Adult Learning Center
Completed in 2019, the Van G. Miller Adult Learning Center combines the programs and services formerly offered at the Metro Center and the Martin Luther King Jr. Center with space to expand programs in a new, three-story, 45,000 square foot building.  The building can serve 4,000 students and features a childcare center, energy efficient elements, community meeting space, stage for programming and performances, open gallery for student art displays, and a café.  The Center bears the name of Van G. Miller, a prominent Cedar Valley philanthropist known for his generous support of community projects and services.  The adult learning center is the first major building project primarily funded from the February 3, 2015, bond referendum, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters in Hawkeye Community College’s 10-county service region. 

Cedar Valley SportsPlex
Developer and philanthropist Rick Young had a vision – an affordable, high-quality fitness facility that is accessible to everyone.  A fitness facility would benefit the Cedar Valley in two ways.  First, it would improve the health and wellness of citizens.  Second, as a cornerstone of Waterloo’s Riverfront Renaissance plan, it would energize economic development.  City of Waterloo leaders showed their support by donating two downtown blocks, and Young worked with the Waterloo Development Corporation to raise funds needed for construction.  With a solid vision, and the land to build it, the Cedar Valley SportsPlex began to take shape.  The facility was opened in 2014 and features several unique spaces including a lap swimming pool with lazy river and water slide, artificial turf multipurpose field, maple floored basketball and volleyball courts with spectator seating, elevated track, free weights and cardio equipment room, and fitness classrooms.

RiverLoop Expo Plaza
The two-block downtown plaza is composed of a series of integrated public exposition spaces that serve as flexible outdoor vendor, market, and activity spaces.  These spaces and uses provide the Waterloo Convention Center with needed outdoor event space as well as other civic program uses such as farmers markets, auto shows, sports shows, and festival event space.  Spaces complement the public market building in a building renovated as part of the original Expo project.  The building now houses Verve Kombucha Kitchen & Bar.  Complementary streetscape renovations surrounding the Expo site were installed in conjunction with the $4.5 million Expo Plaza development, and the site serves as the visual front door and connection with the Waterloo Riverwalk.

The design incorporates irrigated event lawns and vibrant brick plaza areas to hold events.  Specialty lighting and banner features provide color and event signage while acting as sources of power throughout the site.  A series of sign and light towers equipped with programmable LED lighting draw visitors to and through the site and serve as gateways to the Riverwalk amenities beyond.

SingleSpeed Brewing
The former Wonder Bread factory closed its operations in November 2012 amidst bankruptcy proceedings.  City officials worked with several stakeholders, including the historic preservation commission and Main Street Waterloo, to identify a potential re-use to transform the 0.94-acre site.  Built in 1927, the vacant building occupied an entire block within Waterloo’s urban core.  In 2015, SingleSpeed owner Dave Morgan purchased the building from the city of Waterloo for $1 with plans of registering it on the National Register of Historic Places while transforming the facility into an open, welcoming beer and dining hall.  The massive rehabilitation of the former Wonder Bread factory returned the building to its 1950s glory.  It re-opened its doors in April 2017 as SingleSpeed Brewing Company featuring a beer production operation, restaurant, and tap room.  The facility was awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification status of Gold in October of 2017.

Art Bloc
This 72-unit mixed residential and commercial development is located on the riverfront overlooking Commercial Plaza and the RiverLoop Amphitheatre.  The seven-story building was constructed in a former parking lot next to the elevated walkway at the RiverLoop Amphitheatre.  This long-planned apartment and commercial building was originally conceived in 2000.  After multiple delays and failed developer agreements, developer Brent Dahlstrom stepped forward in 2015 to take on the project.  The building is anticipated to be completed in 2021.

RiverLoop Parks & Trails
This $23 million project has dramatically changed the appearance and function of the Cedar River in downtown Waterloo and consists of three elements.  The Cedar River Plaza and Amphitheatre, which opened in the summer of 2012, is an iconic feature along the Cedar River.  It was designed with the goal of bringing area residents, tourists, and energy to a formerly industry – and levy – dominated riverfront.  The unique steel-frame structure with fabric cover, sound system, and lights has become a popular performance venue on the river’s edge. Nearby Mark’s Park is a hot spot for children with a splash pad and play structures.  The space is named after Mark Young, the son of Rick and Cathy Young, who died in a March 2003 motorcycle accident

The Riverwalk Loop consists of new and existing recreational trails that serve as a link in the vast metropolitan trail network.  The downtown segments of the RiverLoop include an integrated network of bike paths and pedestrian walkways, scenic overlooks with interpretive signage, and enhanced features such as decorative paving, lighting, signing, shade structures, informational kiosks, and landscaping.  

The Cedar River Dam and adjacent river walls were also rehabilitated and new inflatable gates on the dam allow an increase of the pool elevation behind the dam by approximately four feet to enhance recreational boating opportunities.

Riverfront Mural
The “Our Freedom Story” mural is a collaboration between 3rd graders from Lowell Elementary and Kingsley Elementary and the Youth Art Team.  Together, 15 young artists spent more than 2,000 hours to create a 3,000 square foot mural along the Cedar River at the Waterloo Center for the Arts.          

Future Marina
The City of Waterloo and the Waterloo Development Corporation are working to create a boating facility on the west bank of the Cedar River just upstream from the Waterloo Center for the Arts.  The marina is part of the 2015 Iowa Reinvestment District approval, designed to provide $12 million in state sales and room tax funding for several projects on the Cedar Valley TechWorks campus.  The marina will include a floating dock and kayak launches.  Additional enhancements include trees, pedestrian-scale lighting, seating, and paved access to the marina.  Construction is scheduled to start in the winter of 2021.