Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for your interest in learning more about the Tribune Building Project! If your question is not addressed below, feel free to submit it via the box to the right, or call us at 715.423.3863.
What is the Tribune Building Project?

The Tribune Building Project began in December 2012 when Incourage purchased a historic property along the Wisconsin River with the intent that residents would decide the building’s future use(s). From the beginning, this was about more than the building. It represents hope and change for our community, and is a demonstration of a user-centered process toward realizing Incourage’s vision of a community that works well for all people. To date, over 2,000 residents have been engaged in the process through participation in public meetings, tours, Tribune 101 presentations, and classroom and community activities. The Tribune will serve as a community accelerator – accelerating economic growth and opportunity, environmental sustainability, learning, creativity, and connections for community benefit.

What’s going into the Tribune building?

Find out here!

What will the Tribune building look like?

Find out here!

How will the Tribune Building be funded?

Find out here!

How can I contribute to the Tribune?

To donate, visit TribuneBuilding.org/give. In order for Incourage to ask funders outside of our area to invest in the Tribune Building Project and south wood County, we need to show that we, as community members, are willing to invest in ourselves. Your donation is more than simply an investment in a building. It’s an investment in the 2,000+ people who committed time and energy in the process. It’s an investment that represents hope and change. It’s an investment that provides opportunities for education and learning, including support for entrepreneurs. It’s an investment that will breathe new life into our downtown and be a spark for future development. If you are interested in making a multi-year pledge, please contact us. Every dollar counts. To learn more about other opportunities to further support the Tribune, please contact our office via phone (715.423.3863) or email ([email protected]).

Why is it taking so long?

The Tribune is not a traditional development. In traditional development, the developer makes the decisions and investments (if not made by another private investor(s)), construction takes place, and revenue is used for profit. The process to realize what residents envisioned for use of the Tribune was both a benefit and a challenge. It was a lengthy, inclusive and educational process. Beginning with nearly 1,000 ideas, final components and uses weren’t agreed upon until a year into the process. The ideas had to then be ‘market tested’ to assure they were not only what residents wanted but would also be viable. From there, an operating model could begin to be structured and fund development/financing efforts could commence. Seeking public and philanthropic funding from outside the community provides a different set of challenges, including: aligning mission interest with project needs, lengthy and varying timelines for application, and desire to see local financial commitment.

The local environment and culture related to downtown development has also been a challenge. Individual resistance to the project is real. Some of it is public and visible; however, much of it is not visible or transparent to the public. We respect that not everyone will support the Tribune and it may take time for full appreciation of its value. However, we hope that our community is equipped and able to engage in dialogue about difference without engaging in undermining activity. We truly appreciate those who have reached out to ask questions, clarify misinformation and/or engage in a conversation with us.

Why not just tear it down?

In short, because residents attended meetings and made the decisions throughout the process! The Tribune Building and its history represents an informed and engaged community. Residents felt the building’s historic significance, unique architecture and mid-century modern detail was important to honor and preserve.

Will it compete with other businesses?

Following resident input and prioritization, market testing occurred for all components within Tribune and it was determined that demand existed and all were viable. For more than a decade, our work has focused on building a strong and inclusive local economy. Our intent is not to compete with other downtown businesses. We have been in conversations with and have the support of many of our downtown neighbors. They look forward to additional traffic downtown, which will positively impact their businesses. Further, in 2015, an economic study commissioned by REGI (Regional Economic Growth Initiative) and funded by WEDC (Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation) recommended investment and regional collaboration to realize a “Central Place” as a driver of new opportunity and a vibrant, thriving economy. The study indicated that the building blocks for our community’s “Central Place” exist in downtown Wisconsin Rapids, with the Tribune identified as one of the building blocks.

Why will it cost $14 million?

Compared to new construction, renovating an existing, older building is more expensive, and nearly every inch of the Tribune is designed for specific use. For example, in addition to housing basic spaces like a welcome center and conference room, the Tribune will also house a microbrewery, culinary kitchen, cafe/brewpub, creative workshop and recreational rental, per residents’ expressed priorities. In addition, the two kitchens and microbrewery feature a lot of costly equipment. Residents also prioritized a building that was as sustainable as possible and could educate our community. We’re proud that the Tribune is on track to achieve LEED Gold status – the City’s first LEED certified building. Of the $14M, approximately $4M is allocated to the building’s and site’s green features.

Since Incourage is a nonprofit and will own the Tribune Building, does that mean the Tribune Building will not pay taxes?

Incourage will pay property taxes to the City of Wisconsin Rapids as required by law. The space in the Tribune that is occupied for business purposes (such as the brewpub and recreational rental) is taxable, as it would be for any other for-profit or non-profit owner.

Whom are the Tribune Building’s partners?

Find out here!

What is Incourage’s commitment to ensuring local companies can participate in the Tribune Building’s construction?

Incourage, together with our Construction Management team at J.H. Findorff, is committed to building our local workforce and the capacity of local subcontractors as part of the Tribune’s construction.  This could even mean dividing portions of the project to allow as many small, local companies to participate as possible.  While we recognize this will likely create a longer process, we believe it will also provide greater, long-term value to local firms.

Contractors for Phase 1 of construction included:

  • Altmann Construction Company, Inc., Wisconsin Rapids (Demolition)
  • Current Technologies Inc., Port Edwards (Electrical)
  • Kohls Plumbing & Heating Inc., Vesper (Plumbing)
  • Mavo Systems, Inc., Wausau (Abatement)
  • Tweet-Garot Mechanical Inc., Wisconsin Rapids (Mechanical)
When will construction begin?

The first phase of construction (interior demolition and abatement) was completed in Winter 2015.  We are working to secure all of the funding needed to ensure the building is sustainable for our community long-term.  It is our intent to have a funding mix that minimizes debt.  Once this funding is secured, we will begin additional construction of the building and surrounding site.  We remain committed to realizing the Tribune, and estimate the construction timeline from start to completion will be approximately 12 months.

What is the history of the Tribune Building?

Location: 220 First Avenue South, Wisconsin Rapids WI 54495
Architectural Design: Rowland & Associates, 1958-1959
Construction: Ellis Stone
Original Grand Opening: May 1960
Building size and makeup: 19,868 square feet, two full floors, small third floor mechanical area.
The building’s circular area is not a true circle; rather, it consists of 16 sides.
Over the years, it housed Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune and WFHR 1320AM / WWRW 103.3FM radio stations.

William F. Huffman, former owner and publisher of the Daily Tribune, built the building. He believed firmly in the role of informed and active citizens in a democratic government, which aligns with Incourage’s vision of a connected, engaged community. We view the future of this property and the decision-making process as an extension of Mr. Huffman’s vision.

How do I get involved?

Everyone is welcome, whether or not you have been to previous meetings or involved in the process at all. It’s never too late to get involved! Please join us to learn more about what is happening with the Tribune, and how together we’re shaping the future of the south Wood County area. You can contact us at [email protected] or 715-423-3863 to be included on our email and postal mailing lists to receive invitations and updates! Additionally, Team Incourage is available for presentations to share the origins of the project, progress to date, and what this “community accelerator” means for our shared future. The interactive presentations can be tailored to your group, but typically run 30 minutes in length. Contact us to schedule a presentation!

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