The Broadway District sits on the west bank of the Fox River in Green Bay. As a riverfront location, the area has long been a center of commerce, whether for the fur trade, lumber, paper or, today, as a hive for small businesses and entrepreneurs. However, this transition was not without difficulty, as the 1980s saw the district become a high-crime area defined by disrepair and vacancy. In 1995, a group of persistent local merchants, neighbors and community leaders launched a Main Street organization to reclaim the street. Some early triumphs included a new streetscape, a partnership with local police, and creation of a supportive small business and live-work environment. As of 2009, the district had already achieved success, with the renovation of 91 properties and development of four new infill projects. Progress has continued since that time, with the addition of new residential opportunities and further reduction in storefront vacancies. The most notable change is the conversion of a former train depot and later an adjacent vegetable processing facility into the Titletown Brewery, restaurant, tap room and event center. Over its entire tenure, the district has had a net gain of 171 new businesses that employ more than 1,600 individuals, and has attracted just shy of $69 million in private investment to improve 167 buildings. With 45 statewide awards, the district is the ‘winningest’ community in the state, and is well-known for innovative adaptive reuse projects and regionally significant marketing and event initiatives that bring thousands to shop, dine and stroll during annual events such as the Winter Wine Walk and Wednesday and Saturday farmers’ markets.
WEDC contributed $10,750 toward Watertown’s $50,000 downtown planning effort. Since completing this plan, Watertown has been able to attract a private investor to acquire and redevelop a downtown anchor that has been vacant for 15 years, and is also establishing a municipal loan fund to address upper-floor vacancy issues identified in the planning process. Planning is also under way for a library expansion, and the city is working to acquire properties and recruit a downtown hotel to meet additional identified demand.
WEDC contributed $425,000 toward the $4.5 million redevelopment of the former Larsen Cannery along the Fox River. The site will be home to an upscale office, retail and residential development ultimately incorporating $25 million in private investment.