News & Media

Tribune project planners seek state funding

Tue. Dec 27, 2016

As released by Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune – December 27, 2016


WISCONSIN RAPIDS – A plan to redevelop the historic former home of the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune now is pinning new hopes on state lawmakers, as the Incourage​ foundation tries to get the project in the state budget.

Almost 100 local residents gathered this month in the Centralia Center in Wisconsin Rapids to discuss the Tribune Building Project, a renovation project aimed at turning the space into a cafe, brewpub, art space and community resource. The project has been delayed while Incourage secures funding. The atmosphere at the meeting was a mix of excitement and pride as participants heard project updates and brainstormed ways to raise money locally to help fund the renovations.

Residents at the meeting learned that Incourage applied to include the Tribune Building Project in the 2017 State Building Commission budget. Incourage applied for half of the building cost, or $7.35 million.

Incourage’s managing director Chelsey Mazurek said the funding in the state budget is not limited to government buildings; it includes buildings or projects that have an economic impact on the state. She said the Tribune Building Project fits with Gov. Scott Walker’s goals for economic development, and the resident involvement in the project from ideas and design to programs and funding helps the project stand out during the budgeting process.

State Rep. Scott Krug, R-Rome, who represents parts of Wood and Adams counties, supports the project.

“The Tribune Project has been one of the big things bringing the community together,” Krug said. “It’s been huge.”

Krug said it’s important for community members to stay involved with the project and continue their excitement in the community, but he also has received concerned calls and emails from those who oppose public funding.

The Building Commission will weigh the taxpayer contributions with the potential for the project to serve as a local revenue source, he said.

The number of building proposals under consideration “could be hundreds,” Krug said. “Legislators from all over the state bring projects into the process.”

The former Daily Tribune building on First Avenue South opened in 1960. The Daily Tribune vacated it when it moved operations to an office on Riverview Expressway in 2012. Incourage bought the building in December 2012. Between October 2013 and December 2015, residents met and made decisions for the building, including what would go into the building, interior and exterior design and what the programs would look like. They chose an art studio and classroom, cafe and brewpub, creative workshop, culinary kitchen, microbrewery, recreational rental facility, a welcome center, study and meeting rooms and flexible space. Incourage estimates the building construction to cost $14.7 million.

Both Krug and Mazurek referenced a downtown redevelopment project in Eau Claire that received a state commitment of $15 million through a non-state agency grant.

Krug said there is hope for the Tribune Building Project now that there is a precedent set by the state for a similar project.

If the project receives funding, which would likely be decided with the state’s biennial budget by June 2017, it would take 12 weeks to prepare for construction and a full year of building, Mazurek said. That would put the opening of the Tribune Building in the early fall of 2018.

“Incourage’s board has fully committed to seeing (the project) through,” Mazurek said. “It’s just taking longer than we expected.”

“It’s not if, but when,” Kristopher Gasch, the board chairman of Incourage, said. “We’ve had two-plus years of people showing up (to Tribune meetings). It’s encouraging to see this much enthusiasm, hope and forward momentum. (The process is) taking longer, but the building has also grown in scope.”

The Tribune meeting ended as residents brainstormed hundreds of events and opportunities to raise money for the project throughout 2017. The group will reconvene in January when people can begin organizing more specific fundraising efforts.

Incourage asked residents at the meeting to donate time and money toward advancing the project.

“Every contribution matters,” Mazurek said. “We’re encouraging local investment at any level, from $1 to $1,000.”

For more information about Incourage or the Tribune Building Project, visit www.incouragecf.org, find Incourage on Facebook, or call 715-423-3863.

Contact reporter Caitlin Shuda: 715-424-7307 or [email protected]; on Twitter @CaitlinShuda

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  • About Incourage

    Established in rural Wisconsin in 1994 to serve the changing needs of the south Wood County area, Incourage has become a nationally-recognized leader in place-based philanthropy and community development. Guided by values of equity, opportunity, and shared stewardship, Incourage envisions a community that works well for all people. One physical manifestation of this vision is the redevelopment of the Tribune building, which demonstrates Incourage’s user-centered approach to growing a strong and inclusive local economy.