Downtown Manitowoc

Over the past 20 years the city’s focus on growth (especially in the retail sector) has been on the west side of the city, most notably the Harbor Town district. While this growth has been a major benefit to our community (before everything began the entire area was valued at less than $500,000 and today it is well over $60,000,000), we lost focus on Downtown. We invested over $13,000,000 into infrastructure in Harbor Town over the past 10 years. My goals and strategizes for revitalizing Downtown will come at a cost to both the public and private sectors. We can do this responsibly. Here are my goals and plans:

  1. Define Downtown
    1. We struggle with explaining what “downtown” is. I am recommending we focus our efforts in this area. This area can be expanded in the future, but for now we need to focus on a specific area and invest in it.
  2. Property Values
    1. In the 2017 budget I declared our goal should be to see 5% of the city’s overall valuation in the downtown boundaries. Right now this area has roughly 2.5% of the city’s total valuation.
  3. Facade Grant Program
    1. In 2010 I presented a Downtown Facade Grant program in my budget. This program was removed from the budget due to our financial situation, but I plan to reinvigorate the discussion for the 2018 budget. This is a 50/50 split program where downtown property owners can update their exterior facades and receive a grant of 50% of the total cost to do so. This will clean up our downtown and give an incentive to property owners to invest in their buildings.
  4. Parking
    1. Parking is by far the largest complaint my office receives. In the 2017 budget I began the discussion of larger parking structures/lots to accommodate the growth we are seeing in downtown, especially for businesses that are interested in moving (or growing) downtown. The Common Council approved $500,000 for a study and land acquisition to occur in 2017 and my goal is to budget for a structure/lot in the 2018 budget.
  5. Main Street Program
    1. We have struggled to maintain a downtown main street program over the years. I believe it is time for the city to take the lead on forming an organization that benefits all downtown businesses/events/growth. In the 2018 budget, I plan to make it a priority to hire staff within the Community Development Department to oversee downtown growth and possibilities.
  6. Unique Businesses
    1. Downtown needs to be unique. I wholeheartedly support (and am a founding member of) the Clipper City Co-Op and will work to ensure it is located downtown once they reach their funding goals. There is also a local individual who will be opening a micro-brewery in downtown in 2017. These types of new businesses, along with our already unique ones such as The Hearty Olive, Beernstens, Ryans on York, and much more, will be the catalyst for people to want to come downtown more often.
  7. Library
    1. If re-elected, a top priority of the 2018 budget will be to re-open the Manitowoc Public Library on Thursdays. We cannot talk about a successful downtown if businesses are closed during the week. I consider the Library a major asset to our community and to our downtown and I will work to ensure it is open 7 days a week for the public.
  8. Mirro Building
    1. The Mirro Building is the start of the downtown boundary. Once demolished (in 2017), we have an excellent opportunity to create a welcoming and pleasant start to our downtown. Part of our plans after demolition are to create a small park on the site that is dedicated to the men and women who worked at Mirro over its 100 year history.