On the corner of East Park Ave. and Franklin, adjacent to Lincoln Park, is an old brick building that has housed many, MANY different businesses. Stanley Steemer, Iowa Irish Fest Headquarters, the Baum-McDonald Auto Company, as well as several other auto dealers over the decades.

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JSA Development, LLC from Waterloo City file
JSA Development, LLC from Waterloo City file

In an article from The Courier, this was originally Baum-McDonald Auto with lots of showroom windows and an auto lot. Central Battery and Electric Company built the building in 1923-24 and was the first to occupy the corner lot structure.

JSA Development of Waterloo owns the building at 425 Franklin St. and applied to the Waterloo Planning, Programming and Zoning Commission for a designation of being locally historic. If it wasn't approved, the building would most likely be slated for demolition. Instead, the commission approved the designation, which then makes it eligible for tax credits for restoration. JSA will begin the remodel this year if the tax credits come through.

JSA Development, LLC from Waterloo City file
JSA Development, LLC from Waterloo City file

JSA uses the building for storage right now but has plans to bring it back "to its original, historic character," says John Dornoff, Waterloo City Manager.

Originally, the structure had two arched parapets on the sides it and JSA agreed to restore them.

“The intention is to restore that arched parapet, which is central to its historic character, and also to rehabilitate the storefronts,” - Alexa McDowell, working with JSA on the project

There are still many citizens of the Cedar Valley that remember the days when it was a car dealership, especially the era of Baum-McDonald.

Of course, any restoration or clean-up of the old buildings in downtown Waterloo just helps its appeal, and the city is on the right track with this diamond in the rough.

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