Multiple Views: Green Bay’s mayor wants to spur east side development

GREEN BAY – After years of focus on downtown, Green Bay’s mayor wants to work on developing part of the city’s east side.

Mayor Jim Schmitt outlined his hopes in the State of the City address Wednesday night.

A particular area the mayor pointed out was E. Mason St. and Main St. near East Town Mall.

“We need to anchor the east side of Green Bay on Main and Mason. It’s one of the busiest intersections we have. We have a mall there that needs something,” said Schmitt on Wednesday.

Some council members say if the same energy put in to downtown is put in to the east side, the results can be just as good. A plan people who live and work in the area say they gladly welcome. But others question why it’s taken this long?

Miguel Angel Velazquez says finding the stores he needs is a challenge on the city’s east side. Which is why he’s excited about the mayor’s plans to bring in more businesses closer to home.

“It’ll save me a lot of time, especially with the kids going to school and picking them up and running over here, school shopping, stuff like that,” said Velazquez.

The intersection at E. Mason and Main St. is one of the busiest in the city. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, 67,200 vehicles pass through it every day.

Some business owners say the reason they decided to locate to the east side is because of the opportunities it presents.

“The location, third busiest intersection in Green Bay,” said Cyber Works owner Jim Overly.

Overly says he’s seen a lot of businesses come and mostly go over the last 12 years.

“I think the east side has a lot to offer Green Bay. I think the mayor’s idea of having Green Bay’s east side expand, could only help our city prosper,” said Overly.

Mayor Jim Schmitt said Wednesday he’s interested in bringing in special retail, education and health care.

“We’re in dialogue with those three. I’m hopeful we can get something going this year, but that’s a focus for us,” said Schmitt.

City council president Tom DeWane is on board with the plan.

“What would you like to see and what challenges might there be?” asked FOX 11’s Bill Miston.

“I don’t think we’ll have the challenges if we focus the same way we focused on downtown,” said Tom DeWane, city council president.

He says East Town Mall should be the centerpiece.

“Well, it should be. It’s there. The foundation’s there. I think we focus from there,” said DeWane.

Alderman Andy Nicholson agrees. But wishes more attention was paid to the East Town Mall area, sooner.

“The mall needs support. It’s barely hanging on. We have three abandoned buildings in the area,” said Nicholson.

Nicholson hopes the plan will create the city’s newest hub, leading people to the downtown.

East Town Mall and its property management company declined to comment on the plans.

DeWane and Nicholson both say it’s an idea that is going to take some time to become a reality.

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