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Residents unhappy about Waterloo grocery store construction delay, developer provides update

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WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) - The lot where the new All-In Grocers store is supposed to be built still stands nearly empty. The foundation of the building is laid, but that’s all the progress that has been made over the past year. 

Developer Rodney Anderson told KWWL a year ago he expected the store to be open in August or September of 2020, however, that isn’t possible at this rate. 

"It doesn't look good to me, as it probably doesn't look good to others in the community,” Waterloo Resident Aaron Stacey Roberts said. 

All-In Grocers has been years in the making. Neighbors of the lot remember going to the groundbreaking event back in 2018. Since then, residents say they’ve seen the lot sit empty with not much work being done. 

“I certainly thought it would've been open by now,” Roberts said. 

Roberts, along with other neighbors, says the lot is an eyesore. Mountains of dirt with weeds growing out of them can be seen driving by and from the front yards of those living in the area. 

"With it taking this long I mean, I think a lot of the community is kind of like 'uhh..." It's going to be hard. If you can't get it off the ground it'll be hard to stay open,” Roberts said. 

The developer responding to those comments saying it’s been tough building a grocery store from scratch. 

"We had to jump some hurdles that we didn't foresee,” All-In Grocers Developer and Owner Rodney Anderson said. 

The pandemic put stress on the supply chain of materials across the country. Steel and other supplies such as lumber were hard to get ahold of. 

Financial issues were other factors in delaying the building of the store. Anderson says he needed to go out of state, to North Caroline, in order to get a loan for construction. 

"Just because you don't see nothing happening doesn't mean nothing is happening. A lot is happening,” Anderson said. 

Along with the foundation being laid, two managers have been hired for when the store does open. The partnering staffing agency expects to hire more people soon as they expect to open in fall 2022. Weather permitting, construction may start back up in October or November of this year.

"We're almost a year out so within that year time period we'll see that influx of extra employees that are willing to fill these positions,” Premier Staffing Branch Manager Sherman Wise said. 

In November of 2020, the City of Waterloo gave Rodney Anderson a deadline extension to have the store built by November 30, 2021. Since the only progress made us the foundation of the building, Anderson will need to ask for another extension and he expects to get it. 

City of Waterloo Community Planning and Development Director Noel Anderson says the city wants to see projects, like All-In Grocers, move forward. He says discussions with the developer will continue for the $8.7 million dollar project. The building will include All-In Grocers, Clean Laundry Laundromat, a Grandma’s Hands Restaurant, and the Mrs. Willie Mae Wright Community Center.

The community center also has plans to house the second location for the 1619 Freedom School.

RELATED: Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa partnering with 1619 Freedom School

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Diego Hernandez

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