Since reopening in July, the refurbished Houdini plaza (see its illuminated sign, bottom left) has attracted many with its ability to connect residents with downtown Appleton’s businesses and culture.
“It’s wonderful to see the community embracing the plaza,” says Karen Harkness, director of economic development for the City of Appleton. “I’ve walked through there when Fox River Fitness Boot Camp has been going on. I’ve walked through there when kids from the Children’s Museum have been down there or from the park and rec program.”
Indeed, the new layout allows for heightened traffic, bringing with it some positive reviews.
“We’ve had tons of nice comments about how beautiful our gathering spaces are here in downtown Appleton,” says Jennifer Stephany, executive director of Appleton Downtown, Inc. “People have responded very positively.”
All in all, the renovation means more revenue for downtown businesses. Recently, it served as a premier concert space for the Mile of Music festival.
“The impact from Mile of Music was huge,” Stephany says. “It brought thousands of visitors to our downtown area.”
Mile of Music was just the beginning.
“When you reinvigorate that area and it’s infused with vibrancy and vitality, time and time again, you can see where that’s translated into economic development,” Harkness says. “There are some businesses surrounding there that have chosen that site because of the redevelopment and there are additional businesses that are looking at locating downtown because of it as well.”