DE PERE – If there’s one thing Tina Quigley wishes downtown De Pere had, it’s a CityDeck.
Not the CityDeck specifically, but a public gathering space unique to downtown De Pere where shoppers, diners, residents and fun-seekers can gather for a concert or just stop to enjoy the view.
“Such a space is a critical next step for De Pere. We need that urban park,” Quigley said.
Quigley, executive director of Definitely De Pere, has a few ideas of where such a public gathering space could go and how it could complement past and pending investments in downtown De Pere.
She said Wells Park, with its views of west De Pere and the Fox River, could be a great spot for a public plaza or performance space. She also suggested raising the grassy George Street landing up so the area is level with Broadway would improve it as a gathering place.
“We do have a great mix of shops and restaurants and are adding to housing, but we lack public spaces,” she said. “Downtowns are public places. They attract people and people look for more than just shopping or dining experiences.”
Such an investment, she said, would dovetail well with the large-scale reshaping of downtown De Pere’s east side courtesy of the Mulva family. The Mulva Foundation expects to start construction of its$58 million Mulva Cultural Center by fall.
Even sooner, the Mulvas plan to demolish several buildings west of South Broadway and north of the Claude Allouez Bridge to clear the space for future redevelopment. Quigley said the land would give downtown De Pere room to add more residential units and other amenities to complement its shops and restaurants.
“It’s time to take a step back in order to keep moving forward,” she said. “With the Mulva Cultural Center coming, that facility expects to attract 100,000 people each year. We have two years to get our downtown into shape.”
Here’s a look at what else is on Quigley’s wish list for 2020.
Destination: De Pere
Quigley said the Mulva Cultural Center will help energize and transform downtown De Pere while strengthening connotations that downtown is the place for arts and culture.
Community leaders plan to spend part of this year developing a master plan for the west side of downtown to match the Cultural District Master Plan developed for the east side in 2019.
“There are exciting things happening on the west side of downtown,” she said. “We need to hone in and develop a plan for that region, though. There’s an incredible amount of opportunity on the west side.”
Attract private investment
Definitely De Pere and the city government have spent two years investing in public art and “streetscaping” features like banners, benches, planters, lights and signs.
Quigley said public investment in public art will continue, and she wants to encourage building and business owners to spruce up their facades to match the investment in public facilities in recent years. She noted that De Pere’s facade improvement grant program, which helped Luna Coffee Roasters win a 2018 Main Street Award for best facade renovation under $12,000, now offers a dollar-for-dollar match to qualified applicants.
She said the grant program can provide $10,000 to $30,000, depending on the property’s size, and that program currently has about $120,000 available.
‘Launch’ Voyageur Park
Celebrate De Pere returns to Voyageur Park this year, and Quigley has a few ideas in mind to enhance recreation opportunities there
She said she’s exploring the possibility of adding a kayak launch, more docks and a multi-use building or pavilion that would include bathrooms.
“Thousands of people already visit Voyageur Park every week, but these are opportunities to further utilize the spaces without changing the park,” she said.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Public gathering space, private investment on Quigley’s wish list for downtown De Pere
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