A Front Door for Menomonie
city plans downtown “gateway project”
After an initial veto by the mayor, distribution of a town survey, countless e-mail and blog commenting, and general talk around the block, the decision is finally in: downtown Menomonie will soon be home to a spankin’ new, multi-million dollar mixed-use housing and retail complex.
The Menomonie City Council, after a 10-0 vote, recently overturned Mayor Randy Knaack’s veto against a proposed building project for the downtown area.
The building plan – which has been named the “Gateway Project” – is being managed by Eau Claire-based AHMC Asset Management, and will take the place of the old Leever’s grocery store on South Broadway, a site that’s been sitting vacant since 2003.
The 250-bed complex will offer student housing, as well as first-floor commercial development, and, to top things off, the building will be four stories tall – one floor taller than the rest of the buildings downtown. So what does this all mean for the city of Menomonie? Residents are saying big things.
“Most of the downtown owners and business persons I have heard from have spoken with great enthusiasm about the project,” said Menomonie attorney Mike Fairchild. “It is likely to provide significant property taxes to the city … [and] make shopping easier and more attractive to Stout students.”
Laura Short, executive director of Main Street in Menomonie, spoke to me on the phone about her expectations for the new project. When completed, she said, the building will be just the ticket for business growth and expansion in the city.
“All business owners want to see downtown improve … they want to see development,” Laura said. “The ground floor retail will definitely serve as a hope for growth.”
As director of Main Street, Laura works daily with business owners to engage the community. When she’s not marketing the downtown area, she’s busy recruiting new businesses to the city.