Downtown Fond du Lac Semi-Finalist for 2015 Great American Main Street Award
National Main Street Trust announced the Downtown Fond du Lac Partnership, Inc.
(DFP) as a semi-finalist in the Great American Main Street Award. Ten semi-finalists were selected from among 1,400
National Main Street communities.
Each year, the National Main Street Center
recognizes exceptional Main Street communities who demonstrate exemplary
achievement in the process of strengthening their downtowns and commercial
districts by creating exciting places to live, work, play and visit. They
achieve active involvement of the public and private sector and have model
partnerships among those who have been involved in making Main Street a great
“Downtown Fond du Lac is
the heart and soul of our community and this award is a fantastic testimony to
the continued revitalization we’re experiencing in our downtown. We
continue to witness construction cranes in our skyline, restoration efforts to
our historic buildings, and more people having a desire to live and work on
Main Street. It’s an exciting time to live, work, stay and play in Downtown
Fond du Lac.” Sam Meyer, President, Fond du Lac City Council.
The DFP has been a
Wisconsin Main Street community for 10 years and has been continually honored
at their annual awards ceremony including awards for Fondue Fest, a
multi-faceted website, a comprehensive annual report, the financial incentives
guide and several individual building rehabilitations.
- New developments: Marine Credit Union, Attitude Sports, Anytime Fitness, Walgreens, Kwik Trip, Taco John’s, St. Peter’s Place Senior Living, Trinity Artist Lofts and Danlann Gallery, Riverside Senior Apartments and Commonwealth Coffee Company, Fox Valley Savings Bank, Hometown Bank
- Adaptive reuse projects: St. Peter’s Church to Commonwealth Companies Corporate Offices, Immanuel Trinity Lutheran Church to Trinity Restaurant
- Major expansions and renovations: Fond du Lac YMCA, Fond du Lac Public Library, Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts
Of the 214 properties in the downtown district, 130 building improvement projects have been awarded grant assistance by the DFP. To date, $192,000 has been awarded to downtown property owners leveraging more than $2.2 million in private investment. This investment has increased the overall assessed value of downtown properties by 38%. First floor vacancy has declined from over 10% to 6%.
Much of the success in downtown can be attributed to joint planning efforts between private and public sectors. These plans have provided a framework for coordinated action, resulting in consistent and increasing investment in downtown from the City, business leaders and other civic partners. Downtown Fond du Lac has sustained the largest number of new housing units (104), and is in the top quarter of programs for net business and job growth (107 new businesses and 223 new jobs).
“The vibrancy, growth and evolution of downtowns are crucial to the attraction and retention of both employers and the talent that are engaged in those operations. The Downtown Fond du Lac Partnership has steadily made tremendous progress over the last few years and is now showing the results of focused programming. The future is indeed bright for Downtown Fond du Lac,” said Steve Jenkins, President of Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corporation.
Looking to the Future
Looking to the future, the DFP will be partnering with the City and others to revise and update the downtown Vision Plan to reflect the significant number of initiatives which have been completed since the last planning effort in 2010.
Other DFP initiatives include efforts to increase residential development, implementation of a public art program and doubling the size and scope of the downtown farmers’ market.
Several landmark properties are slated for renovation in 2015. Agnesian HealthCare and Marian University will be moving a portion of their operations to downtown while Commonwealth Companies is currently constructing new corporate offices. In a report completed by the National Main Street Center, it was stated, “The number of quality development projects in downtown Fond du Lac (and ones on the docket) are impressive and a good sign for future vitality.” “The vitality and health of a downtown often signify the health and vitality of a community. For those visiting, it may define their lasting impressions,” says Joe Moore, Fond du Lac City Manager.
“Fond du Lac’s resurgent downtown district serves as a reminder of the growing vibrancy of our entire community. With new builds, new businesses and amazing restorations and repurposing around every corner, there is now a definite vibe to be found in Fond du Lac’s downtown. Downtown renaissances like this do not happen by accident it takes partnerships, vision and a lot of hard work. This hard work though pays off two-fold as residents and visitors alike benefit from a healthy downtown and an expanding business sector,” notes Craig Molitor, President of the Fond du Lac Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Winners of the Great American Main Street Award will be announced at the 2015 National Main Street Conference in Atlanta in March of next year. Winners will be selected after a review by a national jury comprised of former winners, community development professionals and representatives from government agencies active in economic development and historic preservation. For more information, visit www.downtownfdl.com or call (920) 322-2006.