The City of Shawano is currently in the process of developing a downtown open-air plaza to further enhance our historic downtown and drive economic development by creating a destination space connecting our Downtown to Franklin Park.
Together with our engineering firm - Strand Associates and our architecture and design firm - Parkitecture, city staff and a concept design committee comprised of a vast array of community members have spent several months researching and evaluating numerous design components as well as focusing on what would be the best use of space within the development plan.
The City’s Redevelopment Authority (RDA) has been working to acquire many dilapidated buildings in downtown Shawano to revitalize and bring new life to buildings and spaces that have sat vacant for numerous years. In 2018, the RDA completed a downtown master plan that brought the concept of the plaza development and a proposed location together. In 2019, the city was finally able to acquire the two unsalvageable downtown buildings where a portion of the proposed plaza will eventually sit. With the concept in place and a location secured, the focus turned to funding.
In early 2020, the city, with the assistance of MSA Engineering Consultants (MSA), submitted the plaza project for a grant through the CDBG - Public Facilities Program. With the CDBG Economic Development Program closing, the city was able to use our roughly $500,000 of state allocated funds as our match for a $1,000,000 grant. The city was notified in August of that year that the grant was awarded - giving the city $1,500,000 for combined engineering, site preparation (which includes the demolition of two (2) downtown buildings, 214 and 216 Main Street.) and construction of the project. The city is continuing to work with MSA for all grant administration related responsibilities.
The City believes that this project will have a game changing impact to not only downtown Shawano, but to the entire community. It will provide a city center destination with programmed activity that brings the focus back to the downtown area and provides ancillary benefits to all the surrounding businesses. It will also signal a new beginning as the city can start moving on from unique property ownership issues that have hindered the city’s downtown for many years. It is our hope that this project leaves a lasting impression with those who experience it as an amenity not typically offered in a smaller city.
Project Timeline and Variables
The city’s ideal timeline would be for design to be completed and a firm selected for construction in October 2021 with additional site preparation beginning in later fall/early winter, weather depending. Significant site construction is slated to begin in the spring of 2022. The city has until October 2022 to complete the project and spend all funds provided by the CDBG-Public Facilities Grant.
The following images are concepts that are the product of several months of work between the project landscape architect as well as the Plaza Design Committee . While these continue to evolve in the coming months, some of the components that have been important to the Committee to have included in the finished product are: unique and substantial lighting options, open gathering spaces, green vegetative spaces, water feature(s), fire feature(s), small stage for presentations, connectivity to Franklin Park, as well as tables and seating for dining. There has also been a lot of conversation during the design process that has focused on making sure that this space is a representation of our community as a whole - green spaces, the blue path that emulates our location to water, and a space for the community to come together. These conversations have also led to the creation of what we hope to become an honorarium space to pay homage to our Native American culture and history.
The City of Shawano is excited to partner with the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) for this development. Because of the city being awarded a $1,000,000 grant from the DOA, no local tax dollars are being utilized for this project.