WEDC investment to help fund renovation of historic building

MADISON, WI.  AUG. 2, 2018 – The City of Oconomowoc is receiving a $100,000 state grant to help finance renovations and a third-floor expansion of the historic Mann Block building.

The Community Development Investment Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will support the façade renovations as well as the construction of a three-story stairwell, which will allow for the third floor to be used as office space in the future.

The city is working with the current building owner, Caliber Property Investments, to renovate the façade by demolishing the current storefront. The renovations will also include modifications to first-floor storefronts, window replacements and replacement of existing cornices.

With the addition of the third story, it is anticipated that the new office space will accommodate 12 to 15 employees. Renovations are now underway and expected to be completed late next year.

“A vibrant downtown is crucial to a city’s overall economic health and its quality of life, which is why one of WEDC’s top priorities is to support communities throughout the state as they invest in improving their business districts,” said Mark R. Hogan, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization. “These renovations will make a real difference in Oconomowoc by creating jobs, increasing property values and encouraging future investment in the downtown area.”

“Downtown revitalization has been a priority to solidify Oconomowoc’s role as the Heart of Lake Country,” said Bob Duffy, the city’s economic development director. “The restoration of this iconic building will make an aesthetic difference and demonstrate the achievement of another implementation goal of our downtown revitalization plan. It is our hope the project will also serve as a catalyst for other building owners to improve their properties as well.”

City officials believe the restoration of this building will allow the city to remain competitive with other downtowns and will assist in the recruitment of new investment and businesses to Oconomowoc.

The Mann Block building was built in 1871 and originally housed two drug stores, a grocery store and an opera house. Throughout its 147-year history, the building has also been home to a barber, real estate businesses, a tavern, and jewelry and clothing shops.

WEDC’s Community Development Investment Grant Program supports community development and redevelopment efforts, primarily in downtown areas. The matching grants are awarded based on the ability of applicants to demonstrate the economic impact of the proposed project, including public and private partnership development, financial need, and use of sustainable downtown development practices.

Since the program’s inception in 2013, WEDC has awarded more than $20 million in Community Development Investment Grants to 79 communities for projects expected to generate more than $280 million in capital investments statewide.