APPLETON - The city and Merge Urban Development Group of Iowa have struck a deal for the construction of a $12 million mixed-use building on the site of the former Blue parking ramp at the southwest corner of Oneida and Washington streets.

The five-story building will have commercial space on the first floor and 75 market-rate apartments on the upper floors.

A development agreement approved unanimously by the Common Council commits Appleton to pay Merge about $2.9 million ($2.2 million plus interest) as an incentive to bring the project to completion.

The project is the second phase of the development known as Urbane. The first phase, costing $7.7 million, was approved in September. It involves a five-story building with first-floor commercial space and 56 apartments on the former Conway Hotel property (also known as Washington Square) at the southeast corner of Oneida and Washington.

The next phase of the ongoing redevelopment of Des Moines' Drake University business district is slated to include a pair of five-story, mixed-use buildings on Carpenter Avenue between 24th and 25th streets.

Though the 110,000-square-foot project would have more than 100 housing units, stores and offices, the planners say they are looking to balance the buildings' height with a more neighborhood-friendly scale.

While the overall height will be five stories, the portion that is closer to the historic neighborhood on the east side of 24th will be stepped down to three stories.

"A lot of the most adjacent buildings are about three stories, but you'll notice that the design has been sensitive to that and has stepped back in places," Naomi Hamlett, Des Moines economic development coordinator, told the city's Urban Design Review Board as it considered the plan Tuesday. "It also has a lot of glass so it doesn't feel as large at the pedestrian level."

ASHWAUBENON (WLUK) -- East of Lambeau Field, another development is breaking ground in Ashwaubenon.

The Common Place will consist of 88 residential units, Odyssey Climbing and Fitness and an additional 3,000 square feet of commercial space.

"This town, this community, has better housing than most. Not just in Wisconsin, but in the Midwest, for a town of this size," Merge Urban Development CEO Brent Dahlstrom said.

OSHKOSH – The city has made it to the home stretch of a redevelopment that is 23 years in the making. 

Plans are in motion for remaining vacant sites in the Marion Road redevelopment plan, an update that excites Mark Lyons, the city's planning services manager.

The Oshkosh Common Council on Tuesday approved a specific implementation plan for the first phase in the Mackson Corners development at the southwest corner of Jackson Street and Marion Road. (If you missed that, the aptly named "Mackson" comes from combining the two street names.) 

"We've done substantial, significant development," Lyons said. "The tax value to that area now versus when we started in (1998) is a significant increase." 

GREEN BAY - Interest in Green Bay's Shipyard redevelopment area has revived as a developer finalizes plans to build 225 riverfront apartments while two other developers are vying for control of another site. 

Iowa-based Merge Urban Development has proposed building 225 market-rate apartments, 4,000 square feet of restaurant or retail space and parking on a 5.5 acre site south of Arndt Street between South Broadway and the Fox River. 

The development proposal should mean west side residents will finally see activity on the 16-acre Shipyard site for the first time since the city bought the property 30 years ago, said Neil Stechschulte, economic development director for the city of Green Bay. Previously, the Green Bay Booyah came close to developing a stadium on the site and a Green Bay technology company, Breakthrough, briefly considered the site for its new headquarters.

ASHWAUBENON – A site plan for a climbing gym attached to a five-story building planned along Mike McCarthy Way was recommended Thursday, April 8, by the village’s Site Plan Review Committee and Plan Commission.

Community Development Director Aaron Schuette said Merge Urban Development previously received village board approval in January to construct a mixed-use structure on the north side of Mike McCarthy Way between Holmgren Way and South Ashland Avenue.

However, Schuette said at that time Merge didn’t have plans ready for the climbing gym, which will be attached on the east of the building and called the Odyssey Climbing Gym with four-story climbing walls and boulder walls.

DULUTH – The historic, onetime Seaway Hotel will be demolished to make way for new housing in the Lincoln Park neighborhood after a plan to renovate the local landmark fell through.

The Esmond Building, as it is now known, most recently was a low-income housing complex at the corner of W. Superior Street and 20th Avenue W. that a developer planned to remake into mainly market-rate housing. Former residents of the building were moved into the new Garfield Square apartment complex several blocks east last year.

The redevelopment plans ultimately were not feasible, said Jason Hale, the city of Duluth's senior housing developer, but construction on a new building could start as soon as this year.

For those who understand musical notation – or speak Italian – “Andante” means “at a walking pace.” It’s also the name of five-story mixed-use development poised to rise in the coming months between North Barstow and Farwell streets in downtown Eau Claire.

The name is both a nod to Eau Claire’s musical culture and a reference to the fact the building’s future residents will be within walking distance of numerous offices, restaurants, entertainment venues, and other amenities: Phoenix Park, for example, is just two blocks away.

The company that is finishing up the Brio Building downtown intends to break ground this summer on a waterfront parcel that will close the final gap along the north side of the Fox River between Wisconsin and Jackson streets.

“This really puts a nice cap on” the redevelopment of Marion Road, said City Manager Mark Rohloff.  “It’s really going to add some vibrancy.”

The real estate company behind the Brio is Merge Urban Development Group, based in Cedar Falls, Iowa. It is working on branding the riverfront site as Mackson Corners, a mash-up of Marion Road and Jackson Street.  

"We've had lots of renovations but brand new construction like this for market rate buildings is new and that alone is of great interest to us."

WVIK - Herb Trix - What had been a vacant lot in downtown Davenport will soon be the site of new apartments and commercial space. Construction has started on a building called "Urbane 210."

Kyle Carter, Executive Director of the Downtown Davenport Partnership, says "210" refers to its address on East Second Street, and "urbane" because it's a unique project.

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