Community Development

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Community Development Investment

Al Ringling Theatre Renovation, Baraboo

WEDC contributed $249,455 toward a $3.2 million project to renovate and preserve the historic Al Ringling Theatre in downtown Baraboo. The project, completed in time for the theater’s 100th birthday, restored many of the building’s original fixtures, while also adding modern conveniences like updated restrooms and a bar. The theater regularly draws visitors from Madison and Milwaukee, and is responsible for driving foot traffic in the downtown area to support additional businesses. Other funding partners included the City of Baraboo, Jeffris Family Foundation and private contributions. The theater is in the process of expanding its staff by five to accommodate increased volume of activities and tours as a result of the project.

Amundsen Center, Cambridge

WEDC invested $250,000 toward the $2.2 million expansion of Cambridge’s Amundsen Center. The project was truly a public-private partnership, with one-third public dollars, one-third foundation dollars and one-third charitable giving from private individuals. The project tripled the size of the former center, creating space public meeting space, expanding library space, and opening a plaza on the river with public wifi, catering to local entrepreneurs who frequently patronize the downtown area.

Clock Tower and Masonic Temple, Omro

WEDC contributed $13,000 toward the $100,000 project to restore two iconic properties in downtown Omro: the Clock Tower and Masonic Temple. The project has created space for a historical museum and visitor center for the community, which is working to expand tourism efforts associated with Fox River traffic.

DealerFire Headquarters, Oshkosh

WEDC contributed $250,000 toward the $1.3 million renovation of the long-vacant building at 531 North Main Street. The building will now house the headquarters of DealerFire, a web design and internet marketing firm, while simultaneously creating an incubator/co-working space to foster additional entrepreneurial development in the city. The firm expanded as part of the move, adding 123 additional jobs and investing an additional $1 million in equipment and training.

Dick’s Fresh Market Expansion, Osceola

WEDC provided $243,000 toward a $2 million expansion of the regional grocery store. The expansion also created space for two additional businesses, generating 45 net new jobs. The retention of the grocery store downtown has allowed other projects to move forward, with a public-private Exploration Center project in planning phases and a Minnesota-based brewery considering relocation to the downtown area.

Downtown Branding, Watertown

WEDC contributed $10,750 toward Watertown’s $50,000 downtown planning effort. Since completing this plan, Watertown has been able to attract a private investor to acquire and redevelop a downtown anchor that has been vacant for 15 years, and is also establishing a municipal loan fund to address upper-floor vacancy issues identified in the planning process. Planning is also under way for a library expansion, and the city is working to acquire properties and recruit a downtown hotel to meet additional identified demand.

Downtown Gateway Project, Chippewa Falls

WEDC provided $250,000 toward the downtown gateway initiative, part of a $2.3 million plan to address floodplain issues and improve the gateway to downtown. The completion of this project has already resulted in $7.7 million in additional investment, including the development of the Cobblestone Hotel, SEH Headquarters office building, Chamber of Commerce offices, welcome center and a new brewery within one block of the riverfront. An additional local property owner is exploring a $2.2 million renovation of an adjacent property.

Downtown Master Plan, Sherwood

WEDC contributed $20,000 toward an $80,000 planning project to provide a master plan for future downtown development and address connectivity issues within the community. The plan identified a need for $1.2 million in public investment, which would leverage $7.9 million in private investment in the form of property improvements and new development. Since the plan, the village has identified a number of village-owned parcels downtown with redevelopment potential, and is working to market them to developers. They have also addressed many of the access and parking constraints identified in the plan.

Firehouse Renovation, Rice Lake

WEDC contributed $260,000 toward the $1.1 million conversion of a former City Hall/firehouse property in downtown Rice Lake into a multi-tenant commercial structure. Tenants will include a fitness center and 6,000 square feet of office space. At full occupancy, the building will house 30 employees in the heart of downtown Rice Lake.

Frank Lloyd Wright Warehouse, Richland Center

WEDC contributed $2,400 toward the $25,000 planning effort to preserve and find a viable use for the only known Frank Lloyd Wright-designed warehouse structure. Since the plan, a group of citizens has formed a nonprofit to purchase the building and is raising funds to refurbish it. The building is now open for public tours and to host events, and has a first floor gift shop.

Innovation Center, Mount Horeb

WEDC invested $250,000 in the $1.8 million project to convert a long-vacant former BMO Harris Bank building into the Mount Horeb Innovation Center, located in the heart of downtown. The structure will ultimately serve as a hub for entrepreneurs and offer co-working space options with its meeting rooms and technological capabilities, but also allowed Duluth Trading Company to expand office operations in Mount Horeb in the near term, relocating 80 executive employees from its overcrowded Belleville location.

Jefferson Tile, Jefferson

WEDC contributed $235,000 toward the $3 million downtown redevelopment project. The project allowed Ace Hardware to open in a converted warehouse, and created space for a new NAPA Auto Parts to open in the community while retaining five existing tenants and recruiting three new, smaller tenants, which benefit from improved space and visibility. The project created a combined 30 additional jobs.

Kalscheur Dodge, Cross Plains

WEDC contributed $250,000 toward a $2.3 million project to address floodplain issues and accommodate road expansion needs in downtown Cross Plains. Additionally, the changes created opportunities for Kalscheur Dodge, a fixture in the community for 103 years, to double its square footage. As part of the expansion, the dealership added 20 jobs. An additional shared parking lot will facilitate redevelopment of adjacent structures, which previously had no dedicated parking.

Nicolet Square, De Pere

WEDC contributed $15,000 toward a $60,000 planning process to address access, visibility, parking and other challenges associated with the dated Nicolet Square property. As a result of the plan, the city was able to address pedestrian access, consolidate dumpsters and improve traffic flow to the property. Encouraged by these improvements, Waseda Farms opened in a long-vacant structure on the site, investing nearly $10 million in site and building improvements and hiring more than 20 full-time employees.

Park East, Milwaukee

WEDC invested $17,500 toward the $140,000 Park East Marketing Plan, which was unveiled in June 2014. These marketing materials were used as part of two additional RFPs to secure developers for all remaining parcels of the Park East Corridor. Proposed projects on these remaining sites represent $447 million in total development, including 1.5 million square feet of residential, office and retail space, an NBA practice facility and public space. These uses are anticipated to bring 3,700 jobs to the corridor.

Pump House Regional Arts Center, La Crosse

WEDC contributed $30,000 toward the $120,000 final phase of the regional arts center project. This project incorporated a variety of elements central to the arts district project, including a central parking lot and historic mural. The project was part of a National Endowment for the Arts project and was the final public element of the arts district, which included restoration of the Pump House itself and development of the Weber Center for the Public Arts. Since the completion of the district, proposals have come forward for all remaining undeveloped parcels in the district, including $22 million in new investment and 70 new jobs with employers including Pitschke Motors, Hilton Home2 Suites and the Fairfield Inn.

Riverfront Development Plan, Stoughton

WEDC contributed $10,000 toward a $40,000 feasibility study and plan to redevelop 30 acres of vacant former industrial properties located along the river and adjacent to downtown. As a result of the plan, title issues were addressed, environmental studies were completed, the city invested $750,000 to acquire 10 of the 16 acres, and a developer RFP was created which will be issued once cleanup is complete. The city is also pursuing the purchase of strategic properties in the study area.

Steamboat Inn, Prescott

WEDC contributed $5,000 toward a $20,000 feasibility study for renovating and reopening the historic riverfront Steamboat Inn. Following the study, a development partner was identified and the historic properties were demolished to make way for a four-story, mixed-use, 83,000-square-foot project planned to include a restaurant and banquet facility as well as a parking garage, retail and office space, condominiums and a rooftop patio and pool.

Tecumseh Site, New Holstein

WEDC provided $7,500 toward the $30,000 planning and feasibility study to plan for redevelopment of the long-vacant and contaminated 30-acre former Tecumseh site. The site includes more than 440,000 square feet of structures, was vacated following corporate bankruptcy, and was subject to multiple EPA cleanup activities. The study identified several sub-area plans for the site, and 40 acres were identified as a future $8 million Market Platz development, which will include mixed-use development and a craft brewing center.

The Coffee House at Chestnut and Pine, Burlington

WEDC provided $205,000 toward a $1.4 million project to completely renovate a vacant downtown property to help an existing business, The Coffee House at Chestnut & Pine, expand, while also adding space for a new bakery, a meeting space/event venue and a commercial kitchen, with a combined 10 additional employees. The renovated building has become an anchor for the growing downtown revitalization effort, spurring developer interest in a long-vacant parcel on the same block for an $800,000 investment to create co-working space. The coffeehouse itself is now the top ranked business in the City of Burlington and has been featured in multiple publications, driving additional tourism activity.

Town Square, Green Lake

WEDC contributed $6,500 toward a $25,000 feasibility study to jumpstart the renovation of the 40,000-square-foot former courthouse facility in the center of Green Lake. Following the completion of the study, the nonprofit ownership group invested in upgrades to the facility, which is now home to 23 local tenants, including several entrepreneurs who make use of the certified commercial kitchen. In addition, the center hosts a number of community- and youth-oriented educational programs.

Pat’s Foods, Florence

WEDC contributed $250,000 toward the $1.2 million cost of reopening the county’s only grocery store, seven years after the previous store closed due to the death of the owner. The store employs 10 full-time and 10 part-time workers, making it one of the top 10 employers in the county. Additional financing was needed to address costs associated with repairs after prolonged vacancy, as well as to address previous liens on the property.