INSIGHT ON: Economic Development – Brewing a community

Posted on Oct 1, 2015 :: Economic Development , Insight On
Andrew Schaick
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer
An artist's rendering of what the proposed project will look like in New Holstein, Calumet County.

An artist’s rendering of what the proposed project will look like in New Holstein, Calumet County.

A vacant 40-acre site in New Holstein will get a headier look in the next few years.

The site of the former small-engine manufacturing company Tecumseh Products will be getting a major overhaul based around the area’s historical Germanic and brewing ties, according to plans that are in the early stages of city approval.

The site has been vacant since 2009, when Heus Manufacturing, which employed more than 1,500, went out of business. Heus had purchased the facility in 2007. Since the closure, the site has sat vacant and is deemed a brownfield site because of contamination with petroleum and other chemicals associated with engine manufacturing. The site will need some major cleanup before further development.

Renee Torzala with Stadtmueller & Associates, who helped put together the redevelopment plan, says rejuvenating the site will not be a fast or easy task.

“The site is no longer feasible for heavy industrial reuse, so unless a business development plan is approved, the site will stay as it is,” Torzala says. “And based on the community’s input, they want to see something happen with this site and want the local economy to move forward.”

The mayor of New Holstein says this is the time for fresh ideas to take root – perhaps drawing on the region’s German heritage and ties to the craft brewing industry.

“When the manufacturing plant closed and almost 2,000 jobs were eliminated, it was a hard time for a lot of us here in the area,” says New Holstein Mayor Dianne Reese. “This fresh concept will help bring light to a dark area and I’m excited to see the possibilities the redevelopment will bring to not only the local area, but the area around New Holstein as well.”

Part of the original plan is to create a place that will accompany the area’s dedication to German heritage by naming the development “Market Platz,” with “Platz” being the German word for place or gathering.

Current plans show the development taking place over three phases. The first phase provides for 163,000 square feet of development, which also includes the installation of a welcome center, residential housing similar to townhomes and retail/food spaces. This phase is estimated to cost $8,396,000.

The final two phases will provide 143,500 square feet of development and represent an investment of  $7 million.

“The whole reason behind the plans right now is so we can create a bottom-up approach to help empower the community and engage people,”
Torzala says.

Craft brewing

According to a study done by the Brewers Association, the craft brewing industry contributed $33.9 billion to the U.S. economy in 2012 and created more than 360,000 jobs. With a strong craft brewing industry surrounding the area, Market Platz will include facilities and designated areas to support micro brewing and the growing of hops.

These agricultural demonstration plots will provide an opportunity for brewers to raise their own crops used in brewing, including barley and hops.

Within the master plan is an idea to develop a brewing incubator/contract brewery for local residents who want to learn more about brewing and starting a business.

“There would be a program offered where people can sign up to take a class through a local area tech school to rent out and create a first run of their own brew/recipe,” says Jonathan Weir, economic development director for New Holstein EDC. “It would then give them the information they need if they wanted to get a business going with what they created.”

Residential Development

The revival of the site also includes residential developments with German-inspired architecture.

These townhouse-style homes will satisfy the need of small multi-family housing. Within the first phase of the proposed development, 16 units will go up along Jefferson Street. According to the master plan, the residential apartments will offer an opportunity to create a mixed-use project with residential units over commercial space. Twenty-four apartments will be housed in three separate buildings.

Business clusters

The current plan, which is expected to have many changes as it gets going, will serve a business cluster concept. These industry clusters are a group of smaller businesses that share common markets, suppliers, technologies and employee skills.

A guiding principal to the plan will be to identify and recruit business clusters in the craft beer and wine industry that will fit within the space.

“With the area’s agricultural resources and emerging business clusters, the whole goal is to become a craft beer industry destination, and that’s what this plan is primarily focused on,” Weir says.

Even though a thorough market study has not officially been conducted yet, Weir suggests there will be new job opportunities for the area once businesses become established within the site.

Geography

New Holstein is a community proud of its German heritage, Torzala says.

“There’s a lot of community pride in New Holstein and a lot of pride with their German heritage,” Torzala says. “German is actually the second language for the area.”

After a community brainstorming session on ideas pertaining to the long-term development, the ideas that were brought up the most were to create brew pubs, jobs, restaurants, a town square/gathering place and more downtown businesses.

Although the community and some surrounding businesses may be excited to move forward with the proposed plan, Weir says this is not something that can be built overnight.

“You have to realize, this is going to be a very slow process which requires approval from all different levels,” Weir says. “Patience right now is key, to ensure we are taking appropriate measures to drive the area toward better opportunities.”