SOY RDA solicits ideas from developers

The RDA sent a document to 130 developers asking for expressions of interest about developing the riverfront site. It outlines the RDA’s vision for the site, which includes both residences and businesses, green space and an expectation to create $50 million in new value.

City officials continued to hammer out a plan for the redevelopment of the downtown waterfront this year, choosing a developer and forging ahead with plans for a whitewater park despite setbacks with its grant applications.

Two years after Appleton-based Tanesay withdrew itself from the project citing discord among city leaders, the city’s Redevelopment Authority put out a call this summer for another master developer to turn the former industrial land into a housing development that could feed into the city’s retail-heavy downtown.

Numerous developers expressed initial interest in the project, but two pulled out and three others were rejected, leaving Curt Vaughn Brink, LLC as the last one standing. The RDA accepted a letter of intent from the company in September.

The plan submitted by Brink includes a series of residential and commercial buildings, as well as a brew pub looking out along the river. The removal of the century-old blacksmith shop eliminated one of the last barriers to redevelopment.

More adrenaline-inducing plans are being made down the river and toward the Fourth Street dam.

The city is working with Colorado-based Recreation Engineering and Planning to design a whitewater park where tourists and local river rats alike can paddle or float down the river. The plan, which would reshape the Yahara River as it runs through the city, would include a number of drops for kayakers, as well as a surfing wave.

The city hopes that the plan will bring in a huge number of visitors, as the surfing wave would be the only one of its kind in the Midwest.

A group from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and parks director Dan Glynn completed an economic study last year which estimated that visitors to the park could bring in up to $30 million annually in spending to the city if visitors come from as far as Milwaukee and Chicago.

— Renee Hickman