Developer discusses plan for new library

Proposed mixed-use development including Appleton Public Library (Image courtesy City of Appleton)

APPLETON (WLUK) -- Monday evening the public heard from the developer who created the latest Appleton Public Library plan.

Appleton city leaders also got the chance to ask questions about it during a joint meeting of the library board and finance committee.

On Monday evening, developer Paul Klister of Commercial Horizons explained his plan for a new development in downtown Appleton.

The main feature would be a new 120,000-square-foot public library.

"On top of that there would be multi-use. So there would be 40,000 square feet of flex space. There would be three to four stories of multi-family, potentially some underground parking and some retail on the first floor," Klister described.

That would all be part of the first phase of development, which would go on the site of the current YMCA-owned parking ramp by Solider's Square.

Out of eight proposals the city received for its new library, city staff says this is the best.

"From the library's needs, from the city's needs in meeting the comprehensive plan, adding housing, parking solutions, adding tax value to the city. It just knocked it all out of the park. It was also the most affordable option," explained library director Colleen Rortvedt.

A parking lot would be built south of the YMCA to replace the ramp. However, the developer could later turn that lot into a new ramp and more apartment housing in future development phases.

It's estimated the first phase will create $22 million in new tax base and cost the city about $30 million.

Mayor Tim Hanna told FOX 11 News its too early to tell if this would raise taxes.

"Yes, it has that potential, but we're going to work really hard to minimize the impact," he explained, saying it would all depend on the final plans, financing and possible grants.

Hanna said he understands that no single plan can please everyone, but he says hopes this plan will please most. He told us it is still very early in the process, but that the city and developer will try to be as transparent as possible.

"Say, 'hey, I got this question,' or another staff member says, 'hey, somebody asked about this,' and we share that so that we're giving consistent answers," Hanna said. "We'll answer the questions we can, but a lot of times the answer's gonna be, 'we don't know right now.'"

The plan will need to be approved in committees and by the full city council. The city will then need to draw up a development agreement with the developer, which will also need the same approval.

No vote on the plan has been scheduled at this point, but there will be opportunities for public input.

If all goes well, the developer estimates construction could begin this fall, with phase one complete by May 2020.

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