News & Events

West Side Association is proud of the role it has played in the support and promotion of community and infrastructure projects. Many times our initiatives are "behind the scene" but in the past few years, the organization has taken a more visible role in several public events such as ribbon cutting celebrations for the WI Highway 21 overpass and the Lake Butte des Morts Causeway.

Some of the most recent News & Events include:

Annual Meeting: Developer's Panel – A Community Perspective
January 16, 2014

West Side Association put a new twist on the annual meeting this year by inviting local private developers to participate in a panel discussion of their current and future projects. The topic piqued the interest of the business community, which was evidenced by over 120 people attending the event. The panel included:

Andy Dumke  – Alliance Development
Brian Wagner  – DealerFire/Black Teak Properties
Grant Schwab – Schwab Properties/First Weber Group
Keith Holschbach – The Outlet Shoppes at Oshkosh
Peter Jungbacher – Alexander and Bishop

The panel discussion was moderated by Sean Fitzgerald, the Publisher of New North B2B magazine. Each panelist was asked to address specific projects or properties with which they are associated.

Andy Dumke—Alliance Development recently purchased the former Kmart/Sears building on N. Koeller St., but as yet the company has not developed a concrete plan for the property. The existing building will likely be razed and the site cleared for outlot businesses with big box retailers anchoring the space. Andy did note that the Sears lease had just expired in August 2013.

Alliance is also involved with the Rivers II project, an 80-unit, 4 story residential building located on the north bank of the Fox River near Jackson Street and slated to break ground in Spring. The industrial feel of the architecture is likely to appeal to young professionals who want to live in the downtown area.

Brian Wagner—Black Teak Properties has several parties interested in leasing the former Soiree space in the 400 block of Main Street. The company is being selective to ensure the new tenant is a good fit for the downtown area, but they hope to have someone in that space by summer. They anticipate a February or March opening for the former Joey's Bar, which will be known as Bar 430. With recent approval to expand the business by converting the second floor from its current residential space, remodeling will be continuing with the upper floor opening in September.

DealerFire, which is currently located at 146 Algoma Boulevard, has been experiencing tremendous growth and expansion. With upwards of 70 employees in their current location, the owners (who are also part of Black Teak Properties) recently purchased a three-story building at 531 N. Main Street that formerly housed Kitz Printing. Interior demolition has already begun that will enable the software company to expand to 150 employees, and occupy the second and third floors. The company hopes to develop retail on the first floor.

Grant Schwab—An investment group named Morgan District LLC purchased the former Morgan/Jeld-Wen property and armed with a $150,000 clean up grant, has demolished nearly all of the factory buildings that were located on that site (Sixth Avenue on both sides on Oregon Street, bordering the Fox River). In 2014, we will see the construction of a 24,000 square foot office building on the South East corner near the Dockside Tavern. Additionally, Morgan District LLC plans to deed a portion of the riverfront property to the city for the continuation of the Riverwalk.

The Schwab Properties Group successfully closed the deal on the CVS Pharmacy that recently opened at the corner of 9th Avenue and N. Koeller Street after many challenges and set-backs. Grant feels the realization of this project sends a message to other retailers who may be considering Oshkosh that we CAN get deals done. There is a new regime of city, developers, and landowners who are not willing to give up.

Keith Holschbach—The Outlet Shoppes at Oshkosh have a challenging and unique dilemma in terms of marketing the store brands that have locations at the mall. Because many of the brands are sold in retail outlets within a close proximity of the Outlet Shoppes, they are restricted from advertising those brands. Consequently, many area shoppers are not aware that the outlet features Skechers, Aeropostale, Gap, CJ Banks and more.
Although he was not able to identify the brand, Keith did indicate that Horizon Group recently purchased a national restaurant chain, and the vacant restaurant on the Outlot will be home to that new restaurant as early as May 15. He did caution that the Oshkosh community's support is paramount to the success of the new eatery.

Peter Jungbacher—While he could not say who he is in negotiations with, Peter did indicate that the north wing of the Menard's Plaza Strip Mall will be remodeled this year for a new tenant. Additionally, there is a party interested in an Outlot location there.
On the residential front, plans are being laid for a 51-unit second phase of the Morgan Crossing apartments on Pearl Avenue. The driving force behind residential development in this area is the growing student population, which is anticipated to increase from 14,000 to 18,000 in the coming years.

Economic Development Organizations
Representatives from the City Development Department, the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce and Chamco were on hand to share how their respective organizations assist and support the private developers to ensure their projects move forward. They also provided brief updates on projects around Oshkosh.

Rob Kleman, VP of Economic Development, Oshkosh Chamber—The former Walmart site at the corner of 20th Avenue and S. Koeller has been purchased by the Masters Group from Hartford, WI and demolition of the strip mall has begun. At this point, no plans have been submitted to the city for new construction, however, the Masters Group owns and operates both the Fox and Hounds and Mineshaft Restaurants, as well as provides concessions for the annual Country USA Festival. The prevailing opinion is that we can assume plans will be submitted for a large-scale restaurant and possibly some retail space in the near future.

Allen Davis, Development Director, City of Oshkosh—Allen addressed two high-profile properties that folks have been asking about for some time: the Buckstaff property on South Main Street and the Pioneer property on Pioneer Drive. Unfortunately, the city does not own either of these properties, so the amount of influence they have on facilitating action is very limited.
The Buckstaff property is a unique dilemma because there had been a dispute with the bank as to who owned the property—the bank or the former owner who filed bankruptcy. To make matters worse, the bank (Citizens Bank) was recently sold and is now First Merit Bank. The city of Oshkosh is working with an attorney and filed a suit claiming the building is a public nuisance, and anticipate a hearing will be held on the matter in spring.
Regarding the Pioneer Inn property, the city is pursuing a Market Analysis to determine possible uses for the property if and when the owner is ready to sell.

Elizabeth Hartman, CEO Chamco—The former Pluswood building is now unoccupied and listed for sale. Chamco expects that property to see development of that property, possibly in the form of a convenience store, as well as expansion of the northeast industrial park with more heavy industrial businesses.
The formation of a new Aviation Business Park can be an entire presentation in itself, so suffice it to say that project is moving forward but it will be a long-term development, probably 15 to 20 years. A consultant is being hired to assist in the planning of the project and determining they types of businesses that will be the best fit for the property.

The overall consensus is that there is a new prevailing attitude at city hall with more fair and equitable treatment to the development community. The professional approach that now exists has been a significant improvement and will enable Oshkosh to continue to build on the momentum we have seen in the recent past.

West Side Developer's Panel Summary

West Side Association Presentation 

 

Lake Butte des Morts Causeway Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
June 11, 2013

After the success of the WIS 21 ribbon cutting celebration, the Wisconsin DOT contacted West Side Association to participate in the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the opening of the new Lake Butte des Morts causeway. We gladly accepted the invitation and got busy planning and organizing the event.

Plenty of planning went into the celebration, which included pre-ceremony entertainment by the Lourdes Academy Marching Band, the Pledge of Alliegience led by area Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, refreshments and cake graciously donated by Two Brothers Restaurant and Festival Foods, and music by Dorsey Entertainment.

The festivities were held in a huge tent, which was erected on the causeway so people got a close-up view of the project. Speakers included:
• WIS DOT NE Region Director, Will Dorsey
• WI Secretary of Transportation, Mark Gottlieb
• Oshkosh Chamber President, John Casper

Attendees each received a "goodie bag" with items donated by West Side Association member businesses. Approximately 200 people attended in spite of the hot and humid weather that day.

About the Project
The new causeway over Lake Butte des Morts on US 41 opened fully to traffic in July 2013, and is undoubtedly a relief and a pleasure for motorists who drive it. With two additional lanes in each direction capable of handling a much larger volume of traffic, the improvements over the lake are impressive.

Prior to the mid-1950s when the original causeway was built, motorists had to cross the Fox River in downtown Oshkosh. The construction of a causeway with a series of three bridges was a great improvement, said Tom Buchholz, WisDOT Project Manager, though one of the bridges was a draw bridge. "They said traffic would back up for miles if a boat went through after a Packer game," he said.

The Causeway reconstruction project was undertaken to address capacity and safety needs on US 41, Buchholz said, adding that WisDOT looked at several options, including the construction of a singe bridge to the west of the existing causeway. With a price tag of around $100 million for a bridge compared to approximately $34 million for an improved causeway, WisDOT opted for the latter. "We came up with the idea of putting a trail along side of US 41, and that idea was very well received," Buchholz said. It's a win-win situation for everyone."

The result is a new, eight-lane Lake Butte des Morts crossing, created by widening the existing causeway to the west. Buchholz said three through lanes and an auxiliary lane in each direction will improve the traffic flow between the WIS 21 and US 45 interchanges. Freeway lighting will span the entire causeway.

Buchholz said the new causeway is built for traffic volumes projected 20 years into the future. "The general feedback we've received so far has been very positive," Buchholz said. "I think once it's fully open, people are going to love it."

Highway 21 Ribbon Cutting
November 5, 2012

The West Side Association and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation co-hosted d the ribbon cutting celebration for the Highway 21 overpass on Monday, November 5, 2012 at 10:00 am. The business community and the citizens of Oshkosh were excited to celebrate this long-anticipated infrastructure improvement that promised to alleviate traffic congestion and open up Oshkosh's west side to new commercial development opportunities.

The festivities were held inside a tent at Robbins Restaurant, 1810 Omro Road where very special guests shared their excitement for the completion of this project. Speakers included:

  • US Senator Tom Petri
  • Oshkosh Mayor Burk Tower
  • WI Secretary of Transportation, Mark Gottlieb
  • Oshkosh Chamber President, John Casper

An outdoor ribbon cutting was followed by a short reception inside the restaurant. Refreshments were graciously donated by Robbins Restaurant and Festival Foods for this event. Over 150 people attended to help us celebrate this tremendous improvement for the city of Oshkosh, the Town of Algoma, and all of Winnebago County.

About the Project
The WIS 21 interchange was part of a $54 million project that includes improvements to US 41 mainline and expansion of the Lake Butte des Morts causeway immediately to the north. The interchange, including the pavement from Witzel Avenue to Lake Butte des Morts, totals approximately $30 million of the $54 million.

Improved safety, greater capacity and replacing deteriorating pavement are the main reasons for reconstructing WIS 21. Improvements include:

  • Rebuilding the interchange so that WIS 21 passes over US 41
  • Construction of four roundabouts on WIS 21, at the US 41 ramp terminals and Washburn and Koeller streets intersections
  • Reconstruction and expansion of US 41 between Witzel Avenue and US 45
  • Installation of sidewalks and bike lanes

The upgrade to the WIS 21 interchange and US 41 mainline will be critical to Wisconsin, the region, and area businesses because they ensure an important economic link between the Fox River Valley and southeast Wisconsin for the future.