What will RVI do with the property?
In the near term, we will create and then vet potential development options to achieve our mission as making the site economically sustainable and to create a positive outcome for the community and the region. This is a helpful process for all developers interested in the property. At this time, we have not finalized any particular concept.
Currently the property is zoned R-3. To make any development project viable, the best route is a planned urban development, which is known for creating a better cohesive neighborhood with a variety of housing, services, and employment opportunities within the neighborhood. This will enable preservation of the historic Wyalusing Academy (formerly St. Mary's) building, which is now 42 residential units under the name Lawler Lofts. Further sensitive development for the site means not just planting average homes, but designing homes with character, and build community. The spirit of zoning rules is to help neighborhoods thrive. We believe this zoning change will do just that to the surrounding neighborhood, eliminate potential blight, bring in new residents to PdC, and continue to enhance the tax base.
Historic & Adaptive Reuse
As we continue to work to develop the property, the number one priority was to renovate the historic building for new uses--we have done that in initial partnership with Commonwealth properties, and the historic building is now Lawler Lofts. This is an incredible attractive strategy for future residents, as well as for the neighborhood. It also adds to the other 15 building sites in PdC that have been designated as National Historic Registry buildings. This strategy honors the past as well as makes the project financially sustainable and a tax paying entity. Too often historic properties are only used and owned to be "preserved". We want to avoid that burden for the taxpayers, and add a vital influx of residents that will be purchasing goods, services, and adding their support to the community.
What will be your inspiration and direction?
The substantial historical value of the location and its building for the region, native culture, and settlement patterns is at the forefront of our thoughts. Changing demographics and economics of our local, regional, and national populations come into play as to what will be a successful use. Local market infrastructure, trends in technology, educational needs, and regional business all feed into a final development plan for the property that results in a sustainable solution. We want the use to improve the financial and job picture for area residents and the regional economy. This is an opportunity, perhaps once in a lifetime, to do this right. We take that seriously and we will go to great lengths to work towards long term, not short sighted solutions.
What is your time frame to develop the property?
In the next year, we will be working closely with the Wisconsin Historical Society, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center to ensure we understand our options. Presently, we are considering appropriate partnerships to get additional construction for quality and affordable housing underway in 2019. We will also be creating, and vetting, various mixed uses for the site--this will be done with planning in regard to engineering, architectural, business planning of various concepts, and analyzing the financial impact of each--from construction costs to finance. The time frame depends on putting these various elements in place, the support of local, regional, and federal agencies, and of course, finding the right operators or owners for various business entities to be located on site.
We are unique in our shared expertise, and have the capacity to evaluate and assemble what is needed for the property to be developed appropriately. We each have experience in private and community development, Main Street development, and leveraging private and public funds—which means the ability to bring to a project a multifaceted approach to revitalizing the economics in communities, securing and administering financial resources to create development, and understanding the importance of designing environments, architecture, and the respect for historic places.
In the case of Wyalusing, this means creating a comprehensive plan for the historic building and sensitive and compatible development on the balance of the site.
Is the property for sale?
As part of our mission, portions of the property is for sale, but for the purposes outlined in our mission and within the vision of a new, quality community asset--planning, architecturally, and financially.
What size is the property?
The historic building is 80,000sf, the remaining property is just under 9 acres.
Restoring historic properties is usually very expensive. How can this be done?
We believe just in Historic Tax Credits we can bring roughly $4-6 million in tax credits to the project. This is and extremely important aspect of making the project workable. Other investment will also be part of the package.
What will be priority in its redevelopment from a design standpoint?
We want to see this architecturally and historically significant building and site be developed so as to adhere to historic renovation practices, and green and energy efficient practices where possible. We are also sensitive to the long and significant history of the site--that of the Native American population, settlers, as well as the political impact that the site was host to in the formation of the United States and Wisconsin as a state. Additionally, the beginning history of the building as St. Mary's also will likely impact the design of Wyalusing Commons going forward.
The ancient and the recent history is Wyalusing and its nearby namesake State Park. The bluffs, caves, rock formations, and river have been untouched in the last two glacial scrapings of the region--over 10,000 years ago, and Wyalusing is centered within the Driftless Region.