Waterloo Signs Development Agreement to Transform Convention District

(Oct. 14, 2019- Waterloo, IA) The City of Waterloo and Makenda, LLC hosted a press conference following the Monday October 14, Waterloo City Council meeting to announce extensive renovation plans for the Ramada Inn and the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center in downtown Waterloo.

At the news conference, Mayor Quentin Hart introduced the partners and announce a development agreement for the remodeling of the downtown hotel project and the city’s commitment to renovate the adjacent Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center.  The development agreement is on the Council agenda for approval at its regularly scheduled meeting Monday at 5:30 p.m.  Artist renderings of the new designs were unveiled.

RAMADA-1024x658Makenda, LLC has a purchase agreement with the current hotel owner. According to the development agreement with the City, Makenda will invest $8.5 million into hotel improvements beyond the purchase price. The hotel is expected to carry the Best Western brand name and will be a unique combination of a Best Western Plus and an Executive Residency extended stay hotel. There are more than 4,000 properties in the Best Western family.

The City has agreed to an initial investment of $2.4 million into improvements into the convention center, skywalks and parking ramp with additional improvements to be made in the future. Renovations of the hotel and convention center will take place concurrently. The City is also in the process of selecting a professional management company for the Convention Center under the direction of an advisory committee of stakeholders, including representatives from the hospitality industry, convention hosts, Experience Waterloo and the city.

The City of Waterloo and a downtown development organization, the Waterloo Development Corporation (WDC), have been pursuing a hotel and convention center project for several years. 

Mayor Hart says, “Great projects take time and persistence. We are pleased with the investment Makenda is making in downtown Waterloo.  Working together, we will create a convention destination in downtown everyone will be proud of. These venues are an important centerpiece of the downtown master plan redevelopment.”

Dan Watters, president of Waterloo Development Corp. shared “This is another step and a welcome addition in the commitment to rejuvenate the entertainment district in downtown Waterloo.”

Brian Kern is the CEO and President of Makenda, a real estate development company based in South Dakota specializing in hospitality and multi-family residential development.  Makenda has recently completed a hotel project in St. Peter, MN with a Sioux Falls, SD project set to open yet this year.

“The sense of pride we have witnessed in Waterloo is contagious,” says Brian Kern. “The united support for the project demonstrated by the City, Waterloo Development Corp, Grow Cedar Valley, Experience Waterloo and Main Street Waterloo is rare and something we want to be a part of. This is going to be a great collaboration!”

Tavis Hall, Experience Waterloo Director says, “As Waterloo continues to see significant development, outside investors are recognizing the potential here. The redevelopment of this property has long been a priority of Experience Waterloo and our board of directors. We are excited to have Makenda, LLC bring their expertise to Waterloo.”

If you have questions regarding the details of the hotel development agreement, contact Noel Anderson, Community Planning and Development Director for the City of Waterloo by calling 319-291-4366 or Noel.Anderson@waterloo-ia.org.