"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.

Investors are also constructing new buildings downtown. In addition to the Virginia Square project, Merge Urban Development Group is building a $6 million mixed-use facility on Historic Fourth Street that is slated for completion by mid-2022.

REBusinessOnline - Kristin Hiller - CITY OF SIOUX CITY - Downtown Sioux City, Iowa is currently experiencing growth and transformation on an unprecedented scale. This emerging and vibrant place is not only celebrating its rich and colorful history with multiple historic property renovations, but has made strides to re-invent itself and take the downtown to new levels.

These efforts include the growth of new residential options, an increasing number of cultural attractions and quality-of-life amenities, new entry corridors and a commitment to an extraordinary and ever-evolving riverfront park. This energy and economic activity offers a range of development opportunities, including residential, office, retail and entertainment.

While COVID-19 has had some minor impacts, all of the ongoing downtown construction projects have been able to stay on track and are being completed on schedule, as of the writing of this article.

Reinvestment district

Over $150 million in public and private capital is currently being invested in a 25-acre downtown reinvestment district. This entertainment, cultural and residential district has been designed to extend from the downtown’s entryway directly into the heart of downtown. The district features four signature projects, with a total of 10 public or private buildings that will be fully completed in 2020.

“The development’s name, Andante, means 'a moderately paced walking tempo,' a reference to both Eau Claire’s musical culture the walkable nature of downtown."

VolumeOne - Tom Giffey - The Eau Claire City Council unanimously approved a zoning change and site plan necessary to build a five-story mixed use building along the Eau Claire River at 100 N. Farwell St., a site now known as the Railroad Lot.

The proposed building, known as Andante, would be built by Iowa-based Merge Urban Development, which last year entered into an agreement with the city to develop the property.

The proposed development would included 8,600 square feet of first-floor commercial space (suited for a restaurant, service businesses, or retail), and 76 residential units in the 54,000 square feet on the higher floors, plus surface parking. According to documents submitted by the developer to the city, “The project is intended to provide more housing options in the downtown area, particularly for young professionals and empty nesters, while helping to activate the space along the river.”

Quad-City Times - Alma Gaul - DAVENPORT, Iowa — Three new apartment projects proposed for Davenport have been awarded workforce housing tax credits from the Iowa Economic Development Authority, a financing boost that moves them closer to actually being built.

Merge Urban Development, of Cedar Falls, Iowa, received a $1 million award expected to trigger its purchase of city-owned green space south of the RiverCenter. The space would be used for construction of a $7 million, five-story building with 60 market-rate apartments and ground-floor retail to be called Urbane210. The apartments would include studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units, developer Brent Dahlstrom said.

Siouxland Proud - Tasia Nevilles - SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Downtown Sioux City is on a steady path of expansion.

Rose Gutierrez, a server at SoHo’s Kitchen and Bar said she’s seeing it firsthand now that downtown’s 4th Street is the place for entertainment.

“It has grown a lot more. We have gotten a lot more business and more new faces in here,” said Gutierrez.

She’s experiencing what may be the beginning now that Merge Urban Development plans to build a $6 million mixed-use building on the corner of 4th Street and Floyd Boulevard.

Brent Dahlstrom, a merger partner, described what the Sioux City council approved as a development agreement with the Cedar Falls company on Monday.

“The project is a mixture of commercial on the first floor and the residential will be on the upper floor,” said Dahlstrom. “It’s right around 60 units and there’s a little over 6,000 square feet of retail on the first floor.”

Sioux City Mayor Scott said the project will support the growth of walkable neighborhoods and increase economic activity.

“We continue to see housing downtown and I think every time you build one of those [units] it just enhances the whole downtown core,” said Scott.

The building is projected to be completed in 2021.

KCRG - Allison Wong - DUBUQUE - The Dubuque City Council approved a $20 million development agreement for the Port of Dubuque.

The Port of Dubuque is in one of the city's Opportunity Zones. Merge Urban Development is building a mixed-use complex that will have 187 apartment units. There will also be 23,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.

Oshkosh Northwestern - Lydia Slattery - OSHKOSH — A member-owned grocery store could open in downtown Oshkosh.

The Oshkosh Food Co-op recently launched a $1.6 million fundraising campaign to open a grocery store on the corner of Jackson Street and Pearl Avenue in the first floor of the proposed BRIO building, the organization announced Saturday night.

Stevens Point News - STEVENS POINT — The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has awarded the City of Stevens Point a $250,000 Community Development Investment (CDI) Grant to support the North Side Yard in downtown Stevens Point.

Merge Urban Development Group plans to begin relocating site utilities within the next month in anticipation of a fall groundbreaking for the North Side Yard. The North Side Yard is a mixed-use development to be constructed on a 3.95-acre vacant lot at 1017 Third Street.

The project will be 210,916 total building square feet; with approximately 211 residential units and nearly 30,000 square feet of commercial / retail area. The estimated value of the development is $25 million. The name ‘North Side Yard’ and the stacked timber architectural elements pay homage to the community’s beginnings in the lumber industry.

The site was formally known as the ‘Lullabye Furniture Site,’ in reference to the furniture factory that was established at the site in the late 1800s, which subsequently closed in the 1970s. Since then, the City of Stevens Point has invested in removing contamination and making the vital site ready for redevelopment that would help position downtown Stevens Point as both a destination and a home for residents and visitors.

Today, the City of Stevens Point has a thriving creative economy of makers and young entrepreneurs. North Side Yard will feel like walking into next-generation Stevens Point – with rich spaces to gather, micro retail for startups or makers, and a dense housing mix that is sure to inspire lots of walking and biking activity.

“A vibrant downtown is crucial to a city’s overall economic health, which is why one of WEDC’s top priorities is to support communities throughout the state as they invest in improving their business districts. This project will make a real difference in Stevens Point by creating jobs, increasing property values, and enhancing the downtown area,” said Mark R. Hogan, Secretary and CEO of WEDC.

“The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation continues to be a strong partner in redevelopment efforts in Stevens Point. This investment will assist in the creation of a project that will transform the northern edge of the downtown,” said Community Development Director Michael Ostrowski.

“We are honored to have been selected for this grant. It is a testament to the support this redevelopment project has. The community has really rallied around this concept and it will be a strong catalyst for our thriving city core,” said Mayor Mike Wiza.

“Merge Urban Development Group has been absolutely phenomenal to work with on this project. Their team put forth a considerable amount of effort in the planning process for this project, which will ultimately result in a development that will have a significant positive impact on not only the downtown, but the entire community,” said Ostrowski.

An official groundbreaking ceremony is expected to take place in late October. Invitations will be extended to the public and shared on the developer’s website and their LinkedIn page once the date has been determined.

CDI Grants support community redevelopment efforts by providing incentives for shovel-ready projects that primarily focus on revitalizing downtowns. Projects funded by the grants must lead to job creation, an increase in local property values, and a significant matching investment from local and private partners.

Stevens Point Journal - Joe Bachman - STEVENS POINT — Planning commission officials have moved forward on a conditional use permit to turn the former Lullaby Furniture site into the new “North Side Yard” mixed-use development.

Located at 1017 Third St., the multi-use commercial and residential development will be lofty venture. The project will have an estimated cost of $25 million taken on by the Iowa-based developers, Merge Urban Development Group, and Slingshot Architecture.

The design includes two mixed-use buildings, a multi-family building, and 11 townhomes. The planned site will include internal parking and a public courtyard. The completion of phase one, which includes buildings no. 2 and 3, will be completed by Spring of 2021, with the second phase to follow by the end of 2022.

north side yard development stevens point wi

In total, the developers are looking at 210,329 sq. feet, to house 211 residential units. There will be 106 on-site parking stalls, not including 11 private garages. (117 total) The commercial portion of the development will be approximately 29,302 sq. feet.

“We’re really looking to make vibrant spaces in urban fabric,” said Slingshot Architect Dan Drendel. “…regardless of cultures and climates, people are the same in that they go gather together in the public if they have good places to do so.

Something we loved as we got to know your community a bit is just the already-rich urban infrastructure and green space; parks, complete trail system — for a community of your size it’s just really amazing and really beautiful.”

Parking is a concern posed by some within city government and the public, and in hopes to quell parking quarrels, Merge made the following statement in a letter to the city:

north side yard development stevens point wi

“An underlying driver of all of our designs is building for people. In order to create a comfortable and safe place for people to live, work, and play – we creatively de-emphasize the car. Our site plan includes over 100 on-site parking stalls tucked into the interior of the site plan, and 23 street parking stalls. Underutilized lots surround the site and we are very supportive of district parking solutions and a revised on-street overnight strategy for residents.

Our plan might seem futuristic for Stevens Point, but it is very realistic for the pace of transportation innovation (ride-sharing services have recently become available in Stevens Point), the growing body of research on the negative impacts of driving on public health, and the availability of parking today in the 3rd Street area. It seems very short-sighted to add significant cost to construct more parking, sacrifice green space for parking, and/or reduce active residential and commercial space for a perceived need that is sure to diminish over time.”

A concern among many aside from parking is the notion that the future buildings could become a blighted area — fearing that the development would not be filled to maximum residency. These are concerns coming from many landlords in the region.

One person during the public hearing made a statement believing that most in their 20s and 30s want to own a home rather than take residence in an apartment or multi-family home in a development.

north side yard development stevens point wi

The 2017 Stevens Point housing study, however, tells a different story. The study identified the needs for housing of all types due to expected and continued population growth in Portage County. This includes building new living quarters in the downtown area.

As Mayor Mike Wiza pointed out, not everyone wants the same thing, and pointed to a much bigger picture for the area.

“The housing that has been approved and that is up for consideration are very different — just like you and I live in different houses in different areas of town for different reasons,” said Wiza to the public. “…what might work for you might not work for someone else.”

Wiza commented that the pending building projects are very different; citing the student housing on the former K-Mart site, the fixed income housing on Arlington, the upcoming Water Street Lofts, the live-work spaces on the former Belke Lumber site, and the one up for current discussion.

“Bringing people into the area is going to create an environment to foster business. I get comments about ‘well we should put a Costco there, or a CVS, or an Olive Garden’ — but the fact is we don’t have enough people to support that in the downtown area,” said Wiza. “In the bigger picture, what we’re trying to do here is get people in the area, creating that customer base.

…we are strategically creating housing that has been asked for.”

The motion passed unanimously and will see a final approval at the next city council meeting.

Stevens Point Journal - Alan Hovorka - STEVENS POINT - A developer has big plans for the former Lullabye Furniture Factory lot near the heart of downtown Stevens Point.

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