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About Us

This project is designed to understand the community's needs in an effort to develop a reuse vision for this historic building.


In 2016,  a group of partners and neighbors, informally known as the Walnut Neighborhood Development Coalition, began to meet and focus on housing, neighbor engagement, and holistic development of this vital neighborhood that sits next to Waterloo's downtown district. 

Fearing the continued deterioration of the church, Habitat for Humanity, one of the Walnut Neighborhood Development Coalition partners, purchased the historic and vacant Walnut St. Baptist Church on behalf of the coalition. The sentiment of the coalition, echoed by so many voices across our community, is that the architecture of the Walnut St. Baptist Church is iconic to Waterloo and important to Iowa. It is a significant resource in the unique story and landscape of the city's history and its future.

A planning team was formed with representatives from the Walnut Neighborhood Development Coalition, the University of Northern Iowa, the Institute for Decision Making, a community consultant, and other active community members. This team is embarking on a process to develop an Adaptive Reuse Vision and Plan that engages multiple community stakeholders to 

  1. Understand the needs and desires of the neighborhood and surrounding community

  2. Explore the feasibility of addressing needs and desires through the reuse of the Walnut Street Baptist Church.

The Process

Getting Organized

  • Planning Team

  • Community Consultant

  • Student Researcher

Jan. - Mar.


Research of Best Practices

  • Creative Reuses

  • Public University Involvement

  • Funding Models

  • Ownership/ Management Models

Jan. - May


Community Outreach & Input

  • ID Audiences 

  • Planning for Outreach

  • Conduct Outreach Activities

  • Organize, analyze, document input

Apr. - July


Initial Draft Development

  • Draft Adaptive Reuse Vision & Plan

June - Aug.


Community Feedback

  • Presentations to:

    • Audiences​

    • Potential Implementers

    • Potential Funders

Sept. - Oct.


Final Plan & Implementation Launch

  • Incorporate Feedback

  • Adoption as needed

  • Passionate Guiding "Board"

Oct. - Dec.

  • Who currently owns the building?
    Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity purchased the historic Walnut St. Baptist Church in 2019 with the intention of eventually passing ownership on to an organization(s) committed to utilizing the building for collaborative and equitable community enrichment.
  • How is UNI involved?
    The Institute for Decision Making at the University of Northern Iowa is providing support as an Adaptive Reuse Vision and Plan is developed for the building.
  • What organizations are currently partnering on this project?
    Walnut Neighborhood Development Coalition, Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity, Link Christian Development, University of Northern Iowa, Imagining America at UNI
  • Will the neighborhood have a say in what the building is used for?
    In the spring and summer of 2021, there are plans to host a series of feedback sessions throughout the Walnut Street neighborhood and Waterloo community. These conversations will help to shape the Adaptive Reuse Vision and Plan.
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