Historic White Block Building in Monroe

The renovation of the historic White Block Building in the City of Monroe seen as a catalyst for economic growth.

WEDC investment to help fund the restoration of historic downtown building

MADISON, WI. DEC. 18, 2023 – The City of Monroe is receiving a $249,300 state grant to renovate the historic White Block Building located on downtown Monroe’s central square.

The Community Development Investment Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will aid in restoring the White Block Building, located at 1518 11th St. The White Block Building was constructed in 1898 and has become a core part of the downtown’s continued economic growth.

“WEDC is committed to helping communities invest in revitalizing their downtowns to encourage economic growth,” said Missy Hughes, Secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s leading economic development organization. “This project preserves of piece of downtown Monroe’s history by restoring a building that’s over a century old, as well as revitalizing Monroe’s downtown square.”

The White Block Building was purchased by Monroe natives Kyle Keehn and Scott Mosher in November 2021. Growing up in Monroe, the pair saw the building continue to deteriorate over the years and bought the building with the intention of making it a focal point of the downtown community.

“By restoring the White Block Building, we want to brighten up the square and help revitalize nearby buildings,” Keehn said. “Ultimately, we hope it helps bring more folks to downtown Monroe.”

WEDC’s CDI Grant will help support the renovation and revitalization of the White Block Building, which will include the addition of an era appropriate awning, updated brick exterior and roof repair. Since construction began, new windows have been added, as well as updated wood on the exterior. The building owners aim to restore the building’s historical features and renovate the building to host additional retail and office space. The building is currently home to nine retail and office spaces, ranging from locally owned small businesses to law offices and counseling services.

The City of Monroe aims to use this renovation as a catalyst for economic growth in the downtown. By providing residents and visitors with an appealing, safe place to live, work, and shop, the project could serve to attract new residents to the growing Green county.

WEDC Deputy Secretary Sam Rikkers visited the White Block Building Monday to celebrate the building’s progress, as well as support local businesses through Governor Tony Evers’ Shop Small Wisconsin initiative. Rikkers also visited downtown Elkhorn on Monday to Shop Small and see the new Welcome Plaza, which was funded with a Vibrant Spaces grant from WEDC.

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.

From the program’s inception in 2013 through March 2022, WEDC has awarded nearly $34.8 million in CDI Grants to 166 communities for projects expected to generate more than $517 million in capital investments statewide.