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De Pere approves agreement for Mulva Cultural Center

By Rich Palzewic
Staff Writer

DE PERE – At its Tuesday, Dec. 1, virtual meeting, the De Pere Common Council unanimously passed a resolution authorizing and approving a redevelopment agreement between the city, the redevelopment authority and the De Pere Cultural Foundation (DPCF).

The agreement calls for the city to spend approximately $700,000 for improvements around the Mulva Cultural Center site in downtown De Pere.

Before the regularly scheduled council meeting, the council and the redevelopment authority met jointly to consider the agreement.

After some initial discussion, the meeting went into closed session before a public hearing was held later during the council meeting.

No one from the public spoke during the hearing.

“This is the culmination of many months of work,” said Dan Lindstrom, De Pere development services director. “The cultural center will be geared toward the use by the general public so they can experience art exhibits they may not be able to experience outside of the region.”

Jim and Miriam Mulva. Press Times File Photo

In May of 2019, De Pere natives Miriam and Jim Mulva announced plans to build an approximately $50 million cultural center in downtown De Pere.

Because of revisions and changes since 2019, the anticipated construction value has risen to approximately $70 million for the three-story, 60,000-square-foot attraction.

The cultural center will bring world-class exhibits and programs to downtown De Pere on the east side of the Fox River.

The venue will include a 10,000-square-foot space for national exhibits, a 200-seat auditorium, board room, bathrooms, café, gift shop and classroom spaces.

The city donated the site, south of the Claude Allouez Bridge along South Broadway between Wisconsin and Lewis streets.

However, the agreement comes with some required work from the city.

On Nov. 20, Mike Van Asten, CEO of the DPCF, sent the city a memo of the agreement, which required the city to undertake several infrastructure changes and landscaping efforts near the venue.

The DPCF requested approval of the agreement by Dec. 15 to meet its contract timelines.

Van Asten also said the DPCF requested the city approve the development agreement as submitted or not at all.
Highlights of the agreement include:

• Close by Dec. 15 or at the developer’s option by July 31, 2021.

• Project commencement within 90 days of the agreement (subject to enforced delays).

• DPCF development of Mulva Cultural Center (center, parking, landscaping, plaza, etc.).

• The value of land is listed as $1.5 million.

• Rezoning of three properties on the site to B-1 (Central Business District).

• Site plan approval.

• Street vacation of Michigan and Charles streets.

• Terminating and relocation of necessary Wisconsin Street utilities and easements.

• Relocation of WPS electrical lines before the sidewalk along Michigan Street within 90 days of the agreement. This also includes the replacement of the recently constructed sidewalk along Michigan Street.

• City removal and replacement of light poles around South Broadway to match the Mulva Cultural Center design. According to the agreement, the light poles are to be provided by the developer, but installed and maintained by the city. This also includes relocating and metering electrical lines in the roundabout.

• City removal and replacement of existing sidewalks and red-stamped concrete surrounding the site.

• City installation of right-in/right-out intersection improvements at South Broadway and Lewis Street as part of the Lewis Street reconstruction.

• Occupancy permit for bus drop-off on Lewis Street.

• Public sidewalk easement from Charles Street to Wisconsin Street.

• Public sidewalk easement along Lewis Street for an enlarged sidewalk.

• Snow storage easement at the western end of Charles Street.

In exchange for the $70 million cultural center, the DPCF requested the site be free and clear of encumbrances and easements where utilities can be relocated.

DPCF also requested additional right-of-way improvements to match the aesthetics of the development.
Final estimates for these items could cost roughly $700,000.

Approximately $450,000 will be reappropriated from the stadium tax fund for tourism and economic development purposes that were previously committed for a splash pad and a bandshell in local parks.

The balance of additional requested funds will come from the unassigned reserve fund.

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