Community Development Grants Boost Downtown Redevelopment Statewide

For decades, Green Bay officials have discussed plans to redevelop the historic Hotel Northland, a 90-year-old aging landmark located in the heart of the downtown.

When a developer came forward with a $35 million proposal to transform the building into a 170-room, high-end boutique hotel, Green Bay leaders embraced the project, which is expected to spur future development downtown.

To help make the project a reality, the city turned to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to seek funding through the organization’s Community Development Investment (CDI) Program. The $500,000 grant is one of the final pieces of the financing puzzle for the ambitious project.

“We very much appreciate the collaboration with the city and WEDC in realizing the benefits of this grant program,” said developer Mike Frantz. “As this is a very expensive endeavor, every piece of financial assistance is integral to the success of the renovation and repurposing of the Northland Hotel.”

When the hotel opens its doors next year, it is expected to create 160 new jobs and will be a centerpiece in the ongoing revitalization of the downtown district in Titletown.

Green Bay is just one of dozens of cities around Wisconsin benefiting from the CDI Program.

From Fond du Lac to Forest County, from De Pere to Delavan, WEDC is working with communities on numerous projects that not only improve the quality of life for residents, but will be an economic shot in the arm.

The CDI Program provides grants of up to $500,000 to communities for projects such has blight removal, historic preservation, planning studies and public space development. WEDC allocated $4.5 million for the program this year.

Grant recipients must demonstrate significant, measurable benefits in job opportunities, property values and/or leveraged investment by local and private partners. Although the program funds a variety of local efforts, its emphasis is on improving downtown districts statewide.

“The heart of any community is traditionally its downtown area. WEDC is working with cities and villages across Wisconsin to help revitalize their downtowns,” said Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of WEDC. “A vibrant downtown not only draws new businesses and customers to the city center, but is essential to the overall economic health of a community. When companies are considering relocating or expanding in Wisconsin, one of the areas they look at is the vitality of a city’s downtown area, which plays a role in attracting and retaining employees. “

In addition the grant just awarded to Green Bay, other CDI projects include:

  • An award of $250,000 to Oshkosh for a commercial redevelopment of the historic Frank Percey Gun and Fur House property in the city’s downtown district.
  • An award of $250,000 to Chippewa Falls for the acquisition of a blighted and fire-damaged downtown building that will be removed to create the Chamber of Commerce and Chippewa Falls Visitors Center.
  • An award of $10,750 to Watertown for the creation of a market analysis and redevelopment plan for the riverfront and downtown historic district.

For more information on the program, visit the WEDC website.

(April 2014)