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State of the Street shows promising future

By Melinda Anne Roberts

GREEN BAY – Olde Main Street, Inc., is optimistic about the immediate future and that was conveyed to the crowd at the Art Garage, Tuesday, March 5, for the State of the Street.

“2019 will be the best year ever,” said Ryan Kuehn, president of Olde Main Street.

Kuehn 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,” said 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 ( 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 p.m.

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).

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 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,” said Mirkes.

Program Manager Pam Parish discussed the district’s ongoing efforts to make improvements to the East River Trail.

There is also 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 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 deemed successful for the Whitney Park Summer in the Park series and the summer solstice celebration and free concert.

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 its property and building.

New businesses include Sunrise on Main, Atomic Research LLC and Neurotech, LLC.

The two-story office/retail Main Street Commons is now 100 percent occupied.

The Standard building has new owners and a restaurant and tap room will be open by June.

Demolition of the Three Corners building is planned and 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 Milwaukee View sub-contracted to work on renovations at Hotel Northland, it became interested in the Green Bay area.

That led to its 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 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 recognized two 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.

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