Michaels store opening helps set tone for Military Ave. improvements

Customers mill about the craft and hobby store Michaels, on Sun. April 6, 2014.
Customers mill about the craft and hobby store Michaels, on Sun. April 6, 2014.

GREEN BAY – With the snip of some scissors, Michaels is one of the latest businesses to carve out a new identity in the newly formed Military Avenue Business District.

Its old, now-empty location is across the street.

"It's a little bigger store - about one-thousand square feet bigger," said the craft and hobby store’s manager Craig Ridenour.

Ridenour estimates upwards of 6,000 people shop at the store, weekly. The Mason Street store features an open design with wider aisles and new company marketing.

Roughly 30 employees made the move into the former Cub Foods store. Michaels also added about 50 part-time positions.

Ridenour says the company wanted to keep the store in the Military Avenue area and the building – which it shares with Burlington Coat Factory – became available at the right time.

"Easy for our associates – being in proximity,” said Ridenour. “So a lot of the people that work in this area didn't have to travel to a different part of town."

Michaels celebrated its official re-opening Sunday in Green Bay's newest business improvement district – or BID.

BIDs allow additional property tax dollars to be set aside for district improvements.

The Military Avenue Business District runs roughly from Lombardi Avenue, north to Dousman.

BID leaders say more improvements are in store.

Its recently hired executive director Dan Perron says the district's goal - moving forward - is to both gain and retain businesses.

"We're obviously trying to attract businesses to the area. But having the right businesses, I think is obviously important. And this is one of those," said Perron of Michaels.

Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt says the reason for re-purposing buildings and attracting a variety of stores is simple.

"I think that gives people confidence and that there's more coming," said Schmitt.

The city has spent millions of dollars over the last several years, improving the Military Avenue corridor infrastructure. Now the next step this summer is for the newly created business improvement district to improve how that corridor looks.

On tap is to work on improving existing businesses façades, installing planters and other streetscape details.

"And working down the road to develop some grant funding so we can do some larger projects in the area," said Perron.

One project Perron says is in the works is to create a formal gateway to the district.

The Military Avenue BID now joins the city's other three: Downtown, Olde Main and Broadway.