WEDC contributed $459,529 toward a $31 million redevelopment project including housing, retail and a health care facility on the former Bancroft Dairy site. The dairy plant had closed 10 years prior, and the 1.64-acre site had residual soil contamination, which required disposal and capping.
WEDC provided $243,000 toward a $2 million expansion of the regional grocery store. The expansion also created space for two additional businesses, generating 45 net new jobs. The retention of the grocery store downtown has allowed other projects to move forward, with a public-private Exploration Center project in planning phases and a Minnesota-based brewery considering relocation to the downtown area.
The Sheboygan Falls Main Street Program began in December 1988, when it was named one of the first five pilot Main Street programs in the state of Wisconsin. At this time, only three buildings in downtown Sheboygan Falls had been renovated, and many stood vacant. However, the actual push for downtown revitalization had begun nearly 15 years earlier, when a few passionate individuals formed a Sheboygan Falls historic preservation group out of the Sheboygan County Landmarks Association. Two separate historic districts were created as a result of this effort. The community effort to launch the program resulted in significant private sector investment, as local property improvements totaled more than $3.6 million in the program’s fifth year after steady year-over-year improvements. Early successes included the Brickner Woolen Mill Apartments, which was a successful $3.3 million adaptive reuse project to create affordable housing units along the river downtown. Projects like this, along with many individual business examples, paved the way for the Brickner Square project and 1878 Broadway redevelopment, which both resulted from local investors pooling funds to purchase and restore long-vacant properties. Bemis Manufacturing was an early investor, leading by example through renovations of a downtown showroom facility, but also providing $15,000 in seed funding toward a revolving loan pool for other downtown property owners. Early activities also set the stage for community-oriented and family-friendly events such as the Ducktona 500, which has grown to attract 8,000 annual attendees. Today, Sheboygan Falls is one of Wisconsin’s successful Chamber-Main Street organizations, a model made possible when the larger business community recognizes that the health of the downtown center is a reflection of overall economic opportunity. Sheboygan Falls has won more than 40 statewide Main Street awards in virtually every category offered. The program is especially recognized for its well-preserved historic architecture and successful community-wide partnerships designed to engage the City, business community, civic organizations and residents to preserve and promote a strong and vibrant local community while retaining its quintessential small-town charm.
WEDC contributed $30,000 toward the $120,000 final phase of the regional arts center project. This project incorporated a variety of elements central to the arts district project, including a central parking lot and historic mural. The project was part of a National Endowment for the Arts project and was the final public element of the arts district, which included restoration of the Pump House itself and development of the Weber Center for the Public Arts. Since the completion of the district, proposals have come forward for all remaining undeveloped parcels in the district, including $22 million in new investment and 70 new jobs with employers including Pitschke Motors, Hilton Home2 Suites and the Fairfield Inn.