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City of Sturgeon Bay receives $250,000 state grant to support waterfront plaza

December 1, 2023
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WEDC investment to help fund community gathering place in downtown Sturgeon Bay

STURGEON BAY, WI. DEC. 1, 2023 – The City of Sturgeon Bay is receiving a $250,000 state grant to support the construction of the Sturgeon Bay Plaza, a waterfront plaza and community space located in downtown Sturgeon Bay.

The Community Development Investment grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will support the construction of a community plaza and retail space along Sturgeon Bay’s underdeveloped waterfront area. The project has been over a decade in the making, according to the city.

“Vibrant, accessible public spaces are key to growing Wisconsin downtowns,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s leading economic development organization. “By creating spaces for people to work, live and socialize, we are building stronger communities to meet the challenges of tomorrow.”

The site, located centrally on Sturgeon Bay’s waterfront, has been underused for the past 20 years. Located between two downtown bridges, the plaza aims to catalyze economic development and encourage visitors and future residents to put down roots in the community.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Martin Olejniczak, City of Sturgeon Bay’s Community Development Director. “The space has been underused for a long time, and this new plaza will bring more visitors, and even future residents, to the community.”

The new plaza will feature an upscale bar, gourmet deli and a variety of welcoming community spaces. The addition of public restrooms, outdoor seating, and other amenities such as fireplaces will be added to give visitors a place to gather year-round.

By creating public and retail space in the area, the Sturgeon Bay Plaza aims to bring visitors to surrounding businesses and landmarks, such as the Door County Granary. The Door County Granary, a historical site and museum near the plaza, was funded in part by a $50,000 Vibrant Spaces Grant. WEDC’s Vibrant Spaces Grants were awarded to communities to revitalize their public spaces and encourage economic development in their downtowns and business districts.

WEDC Deputy Secretary Sam Rikkers visited downtown Sturgeon Bay and the Sturgeon Bay Plaza Friday as a part of the “Shop Small Wisconsin” initiative to support local small businesses.

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.

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