GREEN BAY - Get ready Green Bay, On Broadway Inc. is taking on two large projects — with a combined price tag over $30 million.
On Broadway Inc.'s executive director, Brian Johnson, announced plans Wednesday to convert the Old Fort Square building on North Broadway into a public market, costing roughly $14 million.
A multi-story parking and residential development is also planned for the current city-owned parking lots behind Old Fort Square. That development will include 92 apartment units, priced for the middle of the Green Bay rental market, with underground and surface parking. The project, proposed by General Capital Group, a real estate firm, would cost an estimated $21 million.
"The whole pursuit of this is something that's been worked on collectively for over five years," said Garritt Bader, an On Broadway board member and founder of GB Real Estate Investments. "Now after the effort that's been expensed to make this happen, we truly believe we have a path to accomplish this and bring this to fruition."
The plan for the Green Bay Public Market is, in large part, inspired by the Milwaukee Public Market in the city's Third Ward, an area south of downtown.
Not only will On Broadway Inc. mimic the Milwaukee Market in general structure but also in atmosphere and — ideally — impact.
"A lot of folks look at the Milwaukee Public Market and they recognize that a lot of the transformation that has occurred in the Third Ward was really catalyzed through the investment in the Milwaukee Public Market," Johnson said in an interview with the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
The market on Broadway is hoped to be an attraction to bring visitors to the North Broadway area and encourage them to stay longer and check out other Broadway and downtown-area businesses. Johnson estimates the market will bring more than a million visitors to the area each year.
The project costs include $2.25 million to buy the Old Fort Square property and another $10 million to $12 million to renovate the space. On Broadway will own and operate the property.
Updates to the 40-year-old building would include opening up the interior to make space for vendors and adding windows and garage doors to give the building a more modern look.
Once complete, the market will house around 20 vendors, including two anchor tenants on the ground floor. The second floor will have some room for vendors but will be largely dedicated to seating and will also include restrooms, event space and a demo kitchen that will be available for rent by the hour. In total, the building has about 43,000-square-feet of usable space.
Johnson said the plan is to have a balance of vendors, but to mainly have food-focused tenants — including some grocery options.
"Being able to choose the right tenants, rather than the tenants that cut a rent check, ... gives you the highest rate of return — and when you're an authentic public market, you can make those choices that contribute to the long term success of your facility," he said. "It's very food-forward. This is a food-focus facility, meaning that you're not going to see this converted into a retail center. You may have some options there, but it is food-first."
A handful of tenants are already planned for the space, including the two anchor tenants who will have the largest allotted square-footage. One of the anchor tenants, One Barrel Brewing, which has locations in Madison and Door County, has been involved with planning the market for more than two years.
"This is the kind of project you wait for," said Peter Gentry, who co-owns One Barrel with his wife, Jen Gentry.
The Gentrys plan to open a three-barrel brewery, taproom and restaurant inside the market. The majority of the venue will be located on the ground floor but they also envision some seating on the second floor.
Part of the pull for businesses opening in the market, explained Gentry, is the Wednesday farmers market on Broadway.
"If you told any restaurateur that you had a surefire way to make them busier on a Wednesday, they would jump at it," Gentry said. "Having a busy day on a Wednesday rather than Friday or Saturday is gonna be the gravy."
Another tenant will be West Coast Seafood and Chowder, a seafood catering business new to Wisconsin after participating in summer events and at the Broadway farmers market. Rhenee Mady, the owner, plans to serve hot food and also work with a seafood vendor to sell fresh and smoked seafood.
The owners of Gather on Broadway and the owners of Voyageurs Bakehouse are both, separately, planning to be involved with the market, but under new businesses. Voyageurs expects to have details about their plans as a vendor this summer, according to owner Ben Cadman.
The parking associated with the residential development will serve multiple purposes — it will be available for visitors to the market and the district in addition to residents of the apartment building. Johnson also envisions using some of the parking for On Broadway's winter farmers market.
"We are working together with On Broadway, to make sure that the two projects are seamlessly working together to create a positive, larger project out of it that works together," said Sig Strautmanis, with General Capital Group.
General Capital Group hopes to begin construction between late 2022 and 2023.
In contrast, the public market will be owned and operated by On Broadway Inc. and funding for the project will come from grants, investors, capital campaign naming rights and private financing as needed.
However, before seeking investors and grants, On Broadway needs to purchase the property. Johnson said 20% of the funds for buying the Old Fort Square building will ideally come from the city of Green Bay's American Rescue Plan COVID-19 relief allocations and the remaining 80% would be borrowed by On Broadway.
On Broadway Inc. will meet with Green Bay's finance committee on Feb. 8 to discuss ARPA allocations. If the funds are allotted to On Broadway Inc., they will close on the Old Fort Square property in March. Johnson and Bader estimate that construction would begin this year and be complete in mid-2023.
"We expect that the public market will attract over a million visitors per year," Johnson said. "Anytime that you can create an amenity and attraction, you know, that draws a million people to your corridor, to your district, that will always have an overflow impact."
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Green Bay Public Market and apartments proposed on North Broadway