WEDC’s contribution of $1 million in Idle Sites Redevelopment funding was leveraged to attract $9.5 million in local funding for the multi-phase Drexel Town Square project, which includes development of a $10.5 million parking structure to support a medical clinic and other retail uses on the 85-acre former Delphi Manufacturing site now known as Drexel Town Square. The clinic will bring 240 highly paid workers and hundreds more of patients to Drexel Town Square each day.
Beloit, another of Wisconsin’s inaugural Main Street communities, has sustained commitment to downtown progress for more than two and a half decades. A former factory town blessed with the presence of a river and downtown campus (Beloit College), Beloit has channeled the passion of its residents into a successfully reimagined community on the riverfront. As with all Great American Main Street Award winners, Downtown Beloit has established strong local partnerships. Housed together with the Greater Beloit Economic Development Corporation, Visit Beloit and the Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce, the organization has generated regional support for its numerous public art initiatives and innovative incentive strategies, which, in turn have resulted in quality renovations and numerous small business success stories. Moving from 19 percent vacancy in 1988 to 7 percent in 2011, and then to a waiting list of prospective businesses in 2015, Beloit is a downtown success story by any measure. Community pride led directly to the successful community-initiated development project, which created the Beloit Inn, a luxury downtown hotel project. Other community-driven initiatives and partnerships include the conversion of a former Woolworth store into a local foods grocery, creation of the Beloit Fine Arts Incubator, and selection of a downtown location for the Beloit College bookstore. Cumulative private investments of $70 million have created appealing spaces for entrepreneurs, tech companies and civic organizations alike, leading to a 192 percent increase in property values over the past 20 years and rehabilitation of more than 286 buildings. The adaptive reuse of the 750,000-square-foot former Ironworks building, begun in 2014, is the next phase of this activity. Already home to numerous software and technology-based firms, the building is also slated to become home to the regional YMCA, with a proposed pedestrian bridge across the Rock River providing additional connectivity. Moving forward, the organization continues to focus on residential development, including upper floor conversion and infill units designed to meet the needs of a growing workforce and Baby Boomer market; recruitment of additional restaurants to complement a growing food cluster; and expansion of an already active public art scene. The Downtown Beloit Association is responsible for more than 40 days of events each year, including an award-winning farmers’ market and month-long winter holiday celebration.
WEDC contributed $13,000 toward the $100,000 project to restore two iconic properties in downtown Omro: the Clock Tower and Masonic Temple. The project has created space for a historical museum and visitor center for the community, which is working to expand tourism efforts associated with Fox River traffic.
WEDC invested $250,000 in the $1.8 million project to convert a long-vacant former BMO Harris Bank building into the Mount Horeb Innovation Center, located in the heart of downtown. The structure will ultimately serve as a hub for entrepreneurs and offer co-working space options with its meeting rooms and technological capabilities, but also allowed Duluth Trading Company to expand office operations in Mount Horeb in the near term, relocating 80 executive employees from its overcrowded Belleville location.