GREEN BAY – We now know who is behind the farm-to-table public market project in the city’s Broadway District.
The Cannery Public Market project is being spearheaded by John Pagel, a Kewaunee County dairy farmer.
The market will offer fresh dairy and cheese products from his farm and recently purchased cheese company. The market will also provide access to fresh meat, fish and baked goods.
Pagel says the market isn’t designed to be a full-service grocery store, but a special experience.
"All different types of products that either you can make at home or we'll make it for you. There's going to be a restaurant inside where you can order off the menu – if you want – or you could also buy the products from the store inside," said Pagel at a press conference Thursday afternoon.
"This is going to be a phenomenal project. We've been privy to some of the plans and it's going to be spectacular," said Titletown Brewing Company’s Chief Operating Officer Jim Kratowicz. The market will take up about 8,000-square-feet in the old Larsen factory. It is currently being renovated by Titletown Brewing Company as a part of its expansion.
Kratowicz says about ten new businesses will fill the four-story structure, once finished.
Pagel says it could be up to a year before the market opens.
Market moving in, Walmart done with plans
The announcement comes just one day after Walmart announced it would no longer pursue building a store on the Larsen Green site, just north of the Titletown expansion. Walmart spent about a year seeking city and public approval to build a one-story, 154,000-square-foot supercenter store on about 15 acres of land.
"Our proposed store would have brought 300 jobs downtown, created construction jobs, drawn additional shoppers to local area businesses, boosted tax revenue and provided residents with a much-needed new option for fresh, affordable groceries and other goods," said Walmart's Regional General Manager Mitch Cox in a statement emailed to FOX 11 late Wednesday night.
The company said the large store was best to fit the needs of the community, bringing with it jobs, an increased tax base and the redevelopment of a long-vacant property. But earlier this month, the Green Bay city council voted to deny Walmart's request to rezone the property.
“Despite the significant revisions we made to ensure our proposal fit the character of the Broadway district – based on extensive feedback from the community – some City officials created road blocks at every turn,” said Cox. “The level of political and administrative resistance we faced within the City government should be chilling to any business looking to move into or expand in Green Bay.”
Green Bay's Mayor Jim Schmitt had been a vocal opponent to the store’s size throughout the process. On Thursday, he said he's comfortable with the company's decision to move on, as the company was unwilling to budge on their plans.
“Trying to get them to build something more compatible with this area, smaller store – they built 268 of them,” said Schmitt of the smaller Walmart stores located in more densely-populated areas across the country. “They chose to stick with the superstore, which again, we just think there's a better place for that, be it Velp (Avenue), but not down here on Broadway."
Broadway means business opportunity
Pagel said the City Council's decision on Walmart carried some weight with his project.
"It was concerning for me, of course,” Pagel said at his dairy farm Thursday morning, “But we're creating the atmosphere and the experience that's going to be completely different than any other store that we have locally, anyway."
Pagel says what he can't offer through his dairy farm or recently purchased cheese company – like meat, baked goods and fish - will be provided by other area vendors, locally sourcing as much of the food as possible.
Pagel says when he looks at downtown Green Bay and the old Larsen canning factory, he sees opportunity.
“The Larsen building's got history, it's got heritage, it's got personality, it's got character,” said Pagel. “So to take that old building and remodel it, I think it's a huge opportunity."
Schmitt says the city is still courting full-service grocers for the downtown, but not for one specific location, like the Larsen Green sit. But he says that doesn't mean the property is being left out of any talks.