Appleton downtown businesses take stock, look forward

The city’s plan commission reviewed the downtown’s business improvement district plans Monday and approved a 2014 plan that calls for rebranding and implementation of a new “vision plan.”downtown

A report provided to the panel for 2012 showed a decline in property value in the BID by $1.7 million, which raised some concern. Downtown netted 54 new employees over the year, attracted 19 new businesses, and lost 10.

“We’re in the process of establishing a vision for downtown and the riverfront with both Appleton Downtown, Inc. and the BID,” said Jennifer Stephany, executive director of ADI, Inc. “Our process with 85 individuals has identified the top 10 topics to focus on moving forward.”

Those topics: retail and hospitality, real estate development, tourism and attractions, downtown livability, riverfront, arts and culture, parking, urban trends and creative economy, downtown walkability and transportation and Lawrence University engagement. The visioning group also identified wireless internet access downtown as a need.

Next year the 232 BID properties will pay into the district to fund its $206,368 budget. Those funds are dispersed for group efforts and individual business improvements through grants, Stephany said.

The group is looking to spend $10,000 on rebranding in 2014, since “We don’t feel like ‘Downtown Cool’ is taking us to the next level,” Stephany said.

BID representatives will also approach the Common Council in 2014 seeking partnerships in funding public art projects.

— Nick Penzenstadler: 920-996-7226, or npenzenstadler@postcrescent.com; on Twitter @npenzenstadler

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