By Lee Reinsch
GREEN BAY – With two new residential developments, a company moving in and new restaurants and pubs (including three with outdoor patios), things are hopping on Olde Main Street.
At the March 5 State of the Olde Main Street District event held at the Art Garage, Jeff Mirkes, executive director of Downtown Green Bay, Inc., and Olde Main Street, Inc., gave updates for the district.
Near the top of his list was the transformation of the brick neo-classical 1918 Whitney School, 215 N. Webster Ave., into the Whitney School Lofts and Townhomes.
All 23 apartments are finished, and six of the 12 planned townhomes on the property will be available this summer, Mirkes said.
“It’s great to see people already moving into this building and more signing up,” he said.
The area is catching on via word of mouth.
Whitney’s developer, Milwaukee View, which is also developing the old Irwin School in De Pere, came to the city several years ago as a subcontractor for the Hotel Northland and wanted to know what else was going on in Green Bay.
“They had eaten in our restaurants, they liked what they’d seen, and they asked ‘What else can we do in Green Bay?’ That’s a really good signal,” Mirkes said.
He had positive things to say about another new living space, the 20-unit apartment development at 901 Main St., across from Whitney Park, which opened recently.
“The developer, Garritt Bader, really got this party started when he built 10 townhomes on a once very rugged block,” Mirkes said, referring to the colorful townhomes adjacent to Whitney Park that Bader built a few years ago.
The development at 901 Main St., has retail space available, and people have expressed interest, he said.
It’s not just lofts and apartments, though. Olde Main Street is seeing businesses, commercial and retail, move in, too.
Bug Tussel Wireless bought the 30,000-square-foot former Mary Morgan Printing Co. warehouse in the 1000 block of Main Street and plans to move about 15 of its 100 employees there.
“They’re a thriving company,” Mirkes said. “They’re doing work all over the Midwest, in 12 states, and they’ve chosen to make the Olde Main Street District their home base.”
Under construction, Duel Sports Bar & Grill, 1114 Main St., (in the former Mednikow’s Super Market building) is among those planning an outdoor patio.
Also planning outdoor dining space, The Crown and Common, 1139 Main St., (the former Al’s Upholstery) opens this spring, serving New York-style pizza.
The Cock & Bull, 1237 Main St., took down the former Van Boxtel’s Bar building next to the East River to renovate and expand, and it’s planning on putting in an outdoor patio.
Olde Town Crossing, 1242 Main St., is home to three new businesses: Native Sage floral designers, Brewster’s Place cat adoption center, and a second Powers Comics & Collectibles store (the first in Ashwaubenon).
Olde Main home to active art scene
With its stage, dog park area and playground, Whitney Park itself is important to the district, said Jen Metcalf, events manager with Downtown Green Bay.
“It’s the cornerstone of many events,” she said, listing a few: Summer in the Park concerts every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Summer Solstice featuring The Presidents; and Shakespeare in the Park, with PlayByPlay Theater.
“Last year they did ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ and this year they’ll do an encore of that while working on a new play to perform at the end of summer,” Metcalf said.
The event drew 1,200 people to the park and the Olde Main Street District.
Laura Schley, public arts coordinator for the Green Bay Public Arts Commission, said it’s working on an alleyway transformation project between 617 Bodart St., and 401 N. Quincy St.
The artwork is yet to be determined, but a call for artists goes out this month.
The project must fit certain parameters, such as not impeding traffic and maintaining certain distances from powerlines, etc.
“Most likely we will receive proposals for sculptural artwork to be mounted on the side of the building or buildings,” Schley said.
After the call-for-proposal, submissions will be open until April, with final artwork selected later in May and a tentative installation date in August.