Appleton receives proposals from 5 groups for new library development

File photo (WLUK/Scott Hurley)

APPLETON (WLUK) -- The city received proposals from five developers with ideas for a new library facility.

Appleton is looking for a plan for a mixed-use facility, which may include residential, retail, office, medical or a mixture of uses in addition to the library. Some of the preliminary needs set out say the building should be about 120,000 square feet, no more than three floors and should be able to provide adequate parking. It also must in a designated area of the downtown.

“As we’ve said before, the U.S. Venture building is the first domino to fall, so-to-speak, in what we know will be a catalyst for other downtown developments, including the multi-million-dollar renovation of the historic Zuelke building.” said Mayor Tim Hanna in a statement. “This strong response to our request for mixed-use development proposals shows that Appleton is a place developers we have not heard from before, are taking notice of.”

Hanna told FOX 11 News local developers and some from Milwaukee and Madison are interested in building the city's new library.

"I know that there's some teams that submitted more than one proposal. I don't know exactly how many exact proposals we got, but, the fact that we have five development teams interested in a mixed-use project downtown is certainly exciting," he said.

Hanna told us, regardless of which team's library proposal is eventually chosen, this could result in more than one new downtown development.

"If they don't get chosen they can slide the library piece out and slide another piece in and still have a valid proposal," he explained.

We don't know yet what any of the proposals entail. We do know they're all supposed to be in the downtown area, about 120,000 square feet and be mixed-use.

"We're talking about a library that may have, take up some space and there may be another space for offices, or residential. It could be retail, it could be medical," Hanna described.

The idea of mixed-use libraries started to become popular in larger cities like Milwaukee a few years ago. Now it's spreading to smaller communities.

"Mixed-use is kind of the in thing now, because it basically pulls the three areas of development together. It brings in commercial development, it brings in entertainment, it brings in residential," explained Bob Mundt, president and CEO of the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce.

Kaukauna is an example of a local community that has a mixed-use library.

"It's re-urbanization in a smarter way...Makes the development more sustainable into the future. So if one use wanes then you can put that up with another type of use," Hanna explained, meaning the city will be less likely to end up with a big, empty downtown building.

Once a design is selected, the city council would still need to sign off. Hanna says he expects that selection to be solidified sometime this spring.

In 2015, the city council voted down plans to build a $37 million library on the Fox River Bluffs.

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