Committee approves site plan for new visitor center
By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – The village’s Site Plan Review Committee gave its approval Tuesday, Dec. 4, for the Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau to construct a new visitor center in Ashwaubenon.
Estimated to cost $6.5 million, the Experience Greater Green Bay Visitor Center will be located near Interstate 41 and Lombardi Avenue off of Argonne Street behind the new US Bank building in Ashwaubenon.
Construction is planned to start next spring with the visitor center scheduled to open in the summer 2020.
The village’s community development director, Aaron Schuette, informed the committee Experience Greater Green Bay, a 501(c) (3) partner of the Greater Green Bay CVB, will be leasing the land where the new visitor center will be located from Titletown Development LLC.
Because Titletown Development owns the land for the visitor center site and where the US Bank building is located adjacent to the north, Schuette said shared storm water management and off-street parking are able to service both buildings.
Brad Toll, CVB president, said the available parking located north of where the Experience Greater Green Bay Visitor Center will be located is not being used now with US Bank customers parking to the north of the bank building and employees parking along the side of it.
“Unless we had a huge meeting or something, I really can’t imagine a time where all of that (parking) is going to be used,” Toll said.
Once constructed, the two-story, 12,500 square-foot visitor center would be managed and programmed by the CVB, which will move its offices there after operating out of Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena since the organization was founded in 1969.
When plans for constructing a new building were announced in September, Toll noted the visitor center would feature community spaces and an atrium with interactive displays that highlight attractions in the Green Bay area, the history and traditions of the community and its industries, along with the center having an outdoor plaza and garden.
He said the atrium will be a prime spot for local organizations to engage guests through high-tech, high-touch experiences on how they have advanced industries such as dairy, paper, manufacturing, education, technology, transportation, water recreation and health care.
Schuette said he received an email message from the owner of the nearby Pick ‘N Save building objecting to the site plan, based on the off-street parking requirements, the sanitary sewer line and an easement between the Pick ‘N Save property and Titletown Development property.
Schuette said he found the planned off-street parking met the minimum standards with the visitor center and US Bank sharing a parcel.
“Again, it’s not individual parcels here, it’s one parcel,” he said. “Therefore, (there is an) ability to share off-street parking between US Bank and the Convention and Visitors Bureau.”
Schuette said the area identified by the CVB for bus parking is not a drop-off/pick-up area, but rather a place for tour buses to stop, let people get out and take a look at what the Greater Green Bay area has to offer before getting back on the bus to reach the final destination.
The sewer line to service the visitor center, Schuette said, would not cross the property to the south.
“The sewer line continues from Argonne Street along the south and connects to the CVB building,” he said.
As for the easement issue, Schuette said there is a recorded access easement that identifies an access easement point to the property.
“An easement like that typically has two points,” he said. “It has an easement access point, but then also a recorded access easement itself that allows someone to traverse across the other property. In this case there is no recorded document that anyone is aware of that provides that additional easement right of access across the property. So, it provides an access to that point on the property line, but not across the property.”
Schuette said if the owner of the Pick ‘N Save building would want to proceed with the issue of the easement, that would be a matter to deal with Titletown Development, not the village.