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Five businesses named as finalists in Wisconsin’s Main Street Place-Makeover Contest

April 3, 2023
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Winner to receive up to $5,000 to enhance outdoor space

MADISON, WI. APRIL 3, 2023 – Five downtown businesses from around the state have been named as finalists in the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s (WEDC’s) annual Main Street Place-Makeover Contest. One lucky winner will receive design assistance and up to $5,000 in outdoor space enhancements.

This year’s contest allowed businesses in the state’s 34 Wisconsin Main Street communities and 89 Connect Communities to nominate underused spaces that could be enhanced to complement their business. The winning business will receive up to $5,000 in matching funds to implement recommended changes, which could include interior and exterior design improvements or personalized assistance to boost the business’s image and operations.

“Vibrant downtowns use their spaces in thoughtful ways to complement local businesses, draw in visitors and enhance quality of life for residents,” said Missy Hughes, WEDC secretary and CEO. “Like WEDC’s other successful makeover contests, the Place-Makeover Contest gives businesses and communities an opportunity to think creatively about their downtown spaces and highlight successful examples of placemaking from across the state.”

A wide variety of alleyways, patios, sidewalk terraces, parking lots and vacant spaces not contributing to the vibrancy of downtown were nominated for the makeover. Applicant spaces were evaluated based on their overall visibility and the space’s potential to positively impact the business and surrounding district.

The five finalists are:

  • Cap’s Tap, Sheboygan Falls
  • Green Lake GEAR, Green Lake
  • Mary Kate’s Wine Bar, Eagle River
  • Moon’s Town Pump, Cassville
  • The Brew Station, Three Lakes

The winner will be announced in mid-April. The winning businesses will spend several months working with Main Street staff and placemaking and landscape design consultants from Ayres Associates on a renovation plan. The transformed space will be formally unveiled during a public celebration featuring state and local officials later this summer.

All eligible community spaces submitted for the competition will receive technical assistance from the Main Street team to help achieve their goals and improve their business.

Here are details on the finalists:

  • Cap’s Tap, Sheboygan Falls. Cap’s Tap has an underused side and rear yard space in the heart of downtown Sheboygan Falls. The space currently features chain link fencing and little else. The current owners have removed overgrown vegetation and graded the site to create a clean slate but are looking for professional assistance to maximize the uniquely shaped space. Several other restaurants on the block also have or are considering outdoor patios, and improvements to this space will also enhance the experience for customers at these businesses.
  • Green Lake GEAR, Green Lake. The popular sporting goods store is hoping to convert their side alleyway into a shared outdoor space where patrons of their shop and visitors to the adjacent coffee shop alike can enjoy a shaded seating area to enjoy the district. The block currently doesn’t have any other seating areas, and customers are not encouraged to linger. GEAR has tested out various alley improvements including lighting, plants and tables in the past year and would like a more formal transformation, which can accommodate events, speakers and other programming in addition to customer seating.
  • Mary Kate’s Wine Bar, Eagle River. Since opening in fall of 2020, Mary Kate’s has been a popular gathering space in downtown Eagle River. The business hopes to convert an adjacent alleyway into an enticing outdoor seating area for patrons. The business frequently has to turn away patrons during busy evenings and the extra seating would accommodate more visitors and create a desirable outdoor patio. The space is challenged by utility boxes and trash receptacle locations, and the owners are seeking professional assistance to address these issues to achieve their vision for the space and meet customer demand.
  • Moon’s Town Pump, Cassville. The business hopes to convert an underused rear parking area to allow for outdoor seating and create a pet-friendly patio area. The business caters to many outdoor recreation enthusiasts including utility task vehicle trail riders, boaters and hikers which would be drawn to an attractive outdoor gathering space that is easily accessible in downtown Cassville. The new owners have made significant interior improvements since 2019, but the outdoor space does not reflect the new indoor brand. Moon’s also hopes to be able to expand its successful indoor concert series into the outdoor space during summer months.
  • The Brew Station, Three Lakes. This popular tap room in the outdoor tourism destination of Three Lakes currently features only a few picnic tables on a small patio, with the remainder of the rear lot dedicated to parking. Customers in the district regularly request additional outdoor dining options to enjoy the Northwoods summer. In addition to enhanced seating and amenities, the business hopes to create a space to host visiting food trucks, adding dining options during busy evenings.

In its second year, the Place-Makeover Contest is an initiative of the Wisconsin Main Street Program, a comprehensive revitalization program overseen by WEDC and designed to promote the historic and economic redevelopment of traditional business districts in Wisconsin.

The 2022 Place-Makeover focused on public spaces and helped Lake Mills re-imagine an alleyway into the Legendary Lane pedestrian walkway.

Communities selected to join the Main Street and Connect Communities programs receive technical support and training needed to restore their Main Streets to centers of community activity and commerce. The programs are affiliated with the nationwide program managed by the National Main Street Center, and many Wisconsin communities have been recognized nationally for their innovative initiatives and impactful outcomes.

For more information visit Wisconsin Main Street or Connect Communities Programs.

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