Home to the University of Northern Iowa, the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area is also home to meatpacking facilities, agricultural equipment production and support, and boasts a higher rate of racial diversity than most cities in Iowa.
The metropolitan statistical area population for Waterloo and Cedar Falls has been stagnant at about 125,000 for well over three decades, indicating a lack of growth in an area of the upper midwest where some areas have grown significantly, successfully reinventing their agricultural and manufacturing sectors to put up with the demand of the new global economy. Waterloo has, however, benefited from a bolstering of infrastructure as U.S. 20 has recently been completed to the west as a 4-lane freeway all the way to I-35, creating almost 200 miles of uninterrupted 4-lane, divided highway from Dubuque in the east to Fort Dodge in the west. In addition, Waterloo is connected to Interstate 80 via Interstate 380, a 73-mile spur route designed to give Cedar Rapids and Waterloo access to the Interstate Highway System, which is important for local commerce.
As the center of retail commerce for a large swath of mostly rural northeastern Iowa, Waterloo is the home to many national chains and two enclosed malls. Opened in 1970, Crossroads Center is the dominant of the two, the other being College Square in adjacent Cedar Falls. Anchored by Dillards (which opened as an addition to the mall in 1996), JCPenney, Sears and Younkers, other major stores include Old Navy, Scheels All Sports, Gordmans and CVS. Crossroads Center is currently owned by Jones Lang LaSalle, a real estate and money management firm based in Chicago. It is located near the intersection of Interstate 380 and U.S. 20 on the south side of Waterloo.
The decor and layout of Crossroads Center is impressive and feels somewhat dated, despite a minor renovation in 2005. As a two-level mall with 800,000 square feet, the horizontal footprint of the mall feels much smaller than similar sized one-level malls. In addition, I would suggest that the anchors are square-footage heavy, also leading to the feeling that the mall’s in-line space isn’t very large. The most impressive feeling comes from the mall’s very open layout in the mall’s center, featuring a full sized carousel on the ground floor which opened in 2004 and tall, somewhat modern looking towers of colored glass functioning as planters. Such a design is not modern by any means, and harkens back to a time when malls were viewed as places of community with a certain esthetic and not just a means to maximize profit per square foot. The anchors flank the spaces around the mall’s large open area, and there are few hallways radiating outward from this center. One small hallway leads to Dillards and it is almost completely devoid of stores, as you can see in the pictures. Another interesting feature involves the stacking of anchors, where Younkers is placed directly on top of JCPenney.
The photos below were taken in October 2006. Let us know more about this history of Crossroads Center, of Waterloo, or leave your own personal anecdotes.