“2019 will be the best year ever!” exclaimed Ryan Kuehn, president of Olde Main Street, Inc., to
the enthusiastic crowd who packed The Art Garage on Tuesday, March 5, for a “State of the Street” luncheon and program.
Ryan should know. He’s one of those people who is in the district every day, meeting with other business owners, while operating his own printing business.
“It’s outstanding that we’re seeing growing confidence by existing businesses and by prospective businesses,” says Jeff Mirkes, executive director of Downtown Green Bay, who emceed the program. “We really do see growing momentum.”
The Olde Main Street District, along with the Broadway District (aka On Broadway) and Downtown District (the central business district), collaborate to form Downtown Green Bay. Marketing materials frequently promote all three, and the new downtowngreenbay.com website features all three districts.
Tristin St. Mary, Administrative Manager of the Art Garage, started the program by announcing the Art Garage will be reopening on April 5 and that everyone is welcome to attend a Gallery Opening Reception from 5-10 PM.
The Art Garage is “a cultural anchor for the Main Street District,” said Mirkes, and provides “enormous potential” for district growth.
Mirkes credits the area’s growth to a “four pillar” approach that includes Events, Physical Improvements, Marketing, and Business Development.
Event Manager Jen Metcalf shared the success of events like Gallery Nite, Café Crawl (first held in 2017 and attended by 1,200 people in 2018), Galentine’s Day (first held in 2018), and the Summer Solstice Celebration at Whitney Park (first held in 2018 and a “huge success”). In addition to these, new events are planned for 2019 and will include collaboration with district businesses.
While the Downtown District has City Deck , Olde Main Street has Whitney Park with amenities like children’s playground equipment, a performance stage and a dog park. Whitney Park is the site of a variety special events and a summer concert series.
“We’re seeing so much evidence that things happening in that park are now beginning to influence developers to want to built housing around there,” said Mirkes.
The Physical Improvements Pillar includes several “first impression initiatives” like public art, outdoor murals, a planter program, holiday wreaths, and street banners that brand Olde Main Street as an art district.
“This shows a commitment to area aesthetics throughout the year,” explained Mirkes.
Program Manager Pam Parish discussed the district’s ongoing efforts to make improvements to the East River Trail. There is talk of a kayak launch in the vicinity. Discussions with the City of Green Bay to connect the mile between the area around City Stadium and the Fox River Trail will re-engage in the spring. The district is working closely with the city to come up with proposals on how this can be developed.
Available property signage is another component of physical improvements -- ensuring that the signs are attractive and inviting to potential purchasers.
Marketing Manager Kathryn Kroll and Emily Cubitt spoke about the Marketing Pillar. The “Summer in the City” and “Winter in the City” booklets are collaborations between all three districts. Over 200 events were summarized in Summer in the City in 2018, with 60,000 copies distributed. Winter draws a much smaller tourist base; 35,000 booklets were printed.
A digital billboard campaign was successful for the Whitney Park “Summer in the Park” series and the summer solstice celebration and free concert.
Jeff Mirkes reported numerous improvements under the Business Development Pillar. “New businesses are coming in, existing businesses are expanding, and residential options are increasing,” he said.
Nearly New Auto & Truck made substantial improvements to their property and their building.
New businesses include Sunrise on Main, “a resale Boutique featuring fashionable and upscale women’s clothing and accessories” (as per their website) that raises funds for their non-profit partner RESET LIFE; Atomic Research LLC, a firm that helps companies with growth and success; and Neurotech, LLC, a Waukesha-based company providing EEG services.
The two-story office/retail Main Street Commons is now 100% occupied.
The Standard building has new owners and a restaurant and tap room will be open by June.
Demolition of an unsightly Three Corners building is planned. Negotiations are in the works to redevelop the property.
The Whitney Park area will have 50 residential units under construction this spring. Twenty units will be available at 901 Main Street. Four townhomes are under construction across the street from the Whitney school building.
When accomplished “Family Legacy Business” Milwaukee View sub-contracted to work on renovations at Hotel Northland they became interested in the Green Bay area. That led to their purchase of the more than 100-year-old, three story brick Whitney School building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017.
Under the leadership and vision of President / CEO Lindsey Bovinet, the historic building will be converted to 23 market-rate loft apartment units. Additionally, 12 new owner-occupied townhouses will be erected on the perimeter of the property, ground broken for the first six in April.
In addition to the “State of the Street” presentation, Olde Main Street, Inc. proudly recognized two of its outstanding community members.
Tiona Petrouske of State Farm Insurance received the “Spirit of Old Main Street” award, given to an individual or business who embodies the “spirit” of the district through volunteerism and commitment to the organization’s mission.
The “President’s Award” was presented to Jim Brick of Credit Control Management as the person…that has had a large impact in supporting Olde Main Street and moving the organization forward.