The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has awarded the City of Wisconsin Rapids a $472,000 grant to support the renovation of the Tribune building site.
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The Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune vacated the building in Jan 2013, after it was purchased by the Incourage Community Foundation and dedicated for community uses to be decided by residents.
The 19,868-square-foot Ellis Stone construction was built by former Tribune owner and publisher William F. Huffman, and first opened in May 1960. It has also housed WFHR AM 1320 and WWRW 103.3 FM radio stations, in addition to being the home of the Tribune.
Incourage is a place-based philanthropy and community development organization serving the south Wood County area in rural Wisconsin.
They purchased this unique historic property along the Wisconsin River in Dec 2012 for $527,000, and the project to redevelop it through a collaborative community feedback process has since attracted a great deal of attention and funding. More than 800 community members have invested over 5,500 hours in the decision making process.
Plans for the building now include everything from an art studio and classroom to a brewpub and cafe with rooftop lounge, microbrewery , a creative workshop and makerspace, culinary kitchen, meeting space, recreational rental shop, retail store for local goods, play area, game room, a welcome center, and other public spaces.
The Tribune redevelopment project is also creating Wisconsin Rapids economic development benefits, including 14 new full-time and 23 part-time jobs, in addition to more than 200 construction jobs during the redevelopment stage. It’s also going to double the property value, and will serve as a catalyst for new opportunities along the waterfront.
In addition to individual contributions, funding for the project includes a $400,000 investment from ArtPlace America for creative placemaking efforts, and a $152,492 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for capacity building for proactive and collaborative redevelopment.
Now the State of Wisconsin is chipping in with a $472,000 grant to the City of Wisconsin Rapids that will be awarded through WEDC’s Community Development Investment Grant program. This program supports community development and redevelopment efforts, with a focus on projects located in downtown areas.
Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, said in a release that “We are confident that investment in the Tribune building will help spur additional business and community development in Wisconsin Rapids.”
Incourage President and CEO Kelly Ryan said in the release that they sincerely appreciate WEDC’s commitment to Wisconsin Rapids, and added that this grant awarded to the Tribune further demonstrates the importance of public-private and philanthropic partnerships to shaping a strong and inclusive, local economy.
Wisconsin Rapids Mayor Zach Vruwink noted that the city’s unique riverfront and surrounding spaces possess great potential in growing the local economy and stimulating investment, and added that the proximity of the Tribune building and the community’s involvement in the project is a testament to that.