Kewaunee wins $150,000 grant from state to restore blighted properties for redevelopment
KEWAUNEE – The city of Kewaunee is receiving another grant to help it clean up three blighted downtown properties and prepare them for redevelopment.
The Wisconsin Department of Administration last week approved a grant proposal of $150,000 for the city to provide environmental clean-up and site restoration for blight elimination at the three sites. It will be used in conjunction with $1.75 million awarded to the city in two grants in March by the federal Community Development Block Grant program.
The new funds will be used to study, remediate and remove environmental contaminants found on the three properties. The earlier Community Development Block Grants are being used to buy the properties, take down the buildings on them and renovate them so they can be redeveloped.
"This (grant) is more about the actual cleanup itself," Kewaunee Mayor Jason Jelinek said, "including the studies needed to do proper cleaning."
Jelinek also noted that no city tax money has been used on the purchases of the properties or work done thus far.
Two of the sites are a house and parcel formerly owned by William Draeb at 1304 Ellis St. and a small property behind Town & Country Real Estate at 123 Kilbourn St., the latter of which the city is still working on finalizing the purchase.
The third site is the major highlight of the plan — Fisherman’s Point, the spit of land on North Main Street poking into the mouth of the Kewaunee River where it empties into Lake Michigan on the north side of the harbor.
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Fisherman’s Point includes 3.15 acres of land that was privately owned for about 20 years but never developed, as intended by the owner. The city re-acquired the property and has begun to rehabilitate the site; Jelinek said most of the old buildings on site already cleared from it. The city's original hope was to raise the ground three feet to bring it above potential flood levels — it was under water because of record high water levels in Lake Michigan last year — but Jelinek said a hydrology study will be conducted to determine how high the ground can be raised to meet regulations.
The city hopes future development of Fisherman's Point follows recommendations laid out by the Waterfront Plan approved by the Kewaunee Common Council in May 2018 and in more detail by the Harbor Master Plan approved in October 2019. The latter plan suggested the site would be an ideal location for mixed use focused on maritime recreation, possibly including dining and lodging.
Jelinek said the schedule calls for Fisherman's Point to be cleared by the end of the year, and he hopes the city can issue requests for proposals for the site by next spring. He said it's possible some materials from Fisherman's Point could be repurposed at the Draeb property on Ellis Street, which he said in March could be a location for a multifamily housing unit, something sorely needed in the city and county.
Contact Christopher Clough at 920-741-7952, 920-562-8900 or [email protected]
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Kewaunee wins $150,000 grant from state to restore blighted properties for redevelopment