Kevin Vonck on building a vibrant Green Bay

Posted on Jan 2, 2018 :: Face Time
Jessica Thiel
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

WE’VE REALLY PUT A FOCUS on some major redevelopment projects this year (in Green Bay). We worked on the Rail Yard this past summer and approved a development agreement for DDL Holdings, basically to purchase 16 acres from the redevelopment authority, go in, rehab two warehouse buildings of about 100,000 square feet and look at developing a new part of the Fort Howard neighborhood.

We’ll be working on putting some additional streets into the area and storm water management and sewer. The other part is the residential need. They’re going to start with some owneroccupied townhomes on the eastern edge of the property.

We’ve also been working on the south end of Broadway, which is a project called the Shipyard. That is a comprehensive redevelopment plan for the neighborhood down there. The redevelopment authority owns about 13 acres right on the water.

We have a proposal to build an outdoor events center. It’ll be about 2,500 seats and hold 4,000 for sporting events. It’ll have an artificial turf field, so you can use it for baseball, soccer, football, but then also a space where you can have concerts and festivals, and that will hold about 8,000 people.

That’s the catalyst for the project. We’ve also had two other agreements we’ve been working on. One is with (Festival Foods CEO) Mark Skogen to build an indoor concert venue. That would be about a 2,000-capacity facility that would be built in the area just off Broadway.

We’ll put some substantial investment into creating some parking facilities just to help service the district … and then waterfront improvements. The west side of Green Bay doesn’t have a lot of access to the Fox River. We’ll put in a trail along the river, some landscaping, a children’s play area, a transient boating dock, a kayak launch … amenities that really provide some access to the west side.

That’s just downtown. Other areas we’ve been focusing on (include) the near east side. We’ve had some new developers step in to take over the East Town Mall and the abandoned Cub Foods next to it. Back over on the west side, we continue to work Velp Avenue and Military Avenue.

The Titletown District itself is in Ashwaubenon, but for the Packers to do some of the things they’ve done with their brand, they’re able to leverage opportunities that maybe us as municipalities can’t. Their ability to do some of those things really helps us. What we’re really excited about is the amount of space they’ve dedicated to public use and recreational use.

The other thing they’re doing more from the economic development side is their partnership with Microsoft to get TitletownTech. I really think (it) helps solidify a step toward us trying to become more tech-savvy and entrepreneurial.

On the living side, we’re full downtown, from a rental perspective, both workforce and (housing). We still have more people who want to live down there, and if we’re creating additional jobs down there, those people want to be able to walk to work, bike to work, be close to home.

In turn, our hope is that we can continue to attract employers who want to be downtown, who can take advantage of those amenities. They see that’s what the workforce is looking for. Companies that are moving down there are finding a lot of their employees are living downtown or close to downtown.

There’s a great opportunity (in Green Bay) to be involved in creating things that will last a long time. Green Bay is at a very pivotal moment in its history of being able to seize on the potential it has. There’s great bones in terms of the infrastructure. Really, I feel like there’s nowhere to go but up.