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Village of Arena receives $250,000 state grant to support redevelopment of elementary school

August 16, 2021
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WEDC investment to help fund mixed-use development

ARENA, WI. AUGUST 16, 2021 – The Village of Arena is receiving a $250,000 state grant to help redevelop the former Arena Community Elementary School.

The Community Development Investment Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will support redevelopment of the building into 11 residential apartments, a home for the Arena Historical Society, the Arena Food Pantry, and a gymnastics business.

“One of the top priorities of WEDC is to support communities as they invest in revitalizing their downtowns, and this project is a prime example of how we are accomplishing that in every region of the state,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of WEDC. “This project will not only bring new housing to Arena but will add to the quality of life and sense of community.”

The Arena Community Elementary School closed in June 2018 due to declining numbers of students and a lack of funds. ACES Property Management, LLC acquired the property from the school district in May 2019.

Currently, the gymnasium space is being leased to Hardcore Tumbling and Gymnastics, which will continue as part of the project. ACES is donating a portion of the building to the Arena Food Pantry, as well as a portion to the Arena Historical Society for storage, meetings, and community exhibits. The remainder of the building will be renovated into eleven handicapped-accessible studio and one-bedroom apartments.

Construction started in June with resident move-in expected by December 2022. The expenses covered by CDI Grant funds include construction, electricity, and plumbing costs.

After completion, affordable housing options will be available to the community while maintaining the outside appearance of an important Arena landmark. This project will yield multiple benefits to the community including increased tax base, housing for local workers, commercial rental space, as well as space for the historical society to archive its collections and documents.

“I am proud to see the Village of Arena and WEDC working to invest in our community and increase economically valuable assets,” said state Rep. Dave Considine. “This $250,000 grant will increase accessible housing and become the home for the Arena Historical Society. It will also allow for the continued use of the gymnasium for gymnastics. I enthusiastically support this grant because it does more than redevelop the old school – it also improves the space available for housing and recreation in Arena.”

Additional support to make the project successful comes from Jewell Associates Engineers, Inc., including Architect Paul Kardatzke, David Jones from the Peoples Community Bank, and the Village of Arena.

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 to Sept. 30, 2020, WEDC has awarded nearly $26.7 million in CDI Grants to 87 communities for projects expected to generate more than $446 million in capital investments statewide.

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