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Green Bay awarded $5 million grant for Shipyard project

A rendering for the proposed Shipyard area on Green Bay's near west side. (Photo courtesy: City of Green Bay)
A rendering for the proposed Shipyard area on Green Bay's near west side. (Photo courtesy: City of Green Bay)
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GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- The city of Green Bay is set to receive a major boost for its Shipyard plans, on the western edge of the Fox River.

The National Park Service has preliminarily awarded the city a $5 million for the second phase of the project.

Construction is expected to start next month on the first phase of the project, which sits just north of the Mason Street Bridge.

The work comes almost seven years, and a slew of project changes, after the city first pitched the idea of transforming the site now known as the Shipyard.

“The city acquired that property from Fort Howard decades ago and it's been difficult for us to articulate a vision that was realizable and now we're getting much closer,” said Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich.

The first phase of construction will include a riverfront promenade, floating docks, a fishing pier, and kayak launch. It's expected to cost about $7.8 million.

About four years ago, the city council approved borrowing up to $10 million for the entire Shipyard project.

With about $3.5 million already spent on land acquisition, site engineering and site grading, the city's Redevelopment Authority approved borrowing an additional $2.6 million on Tuesday to get the phase one work done.

The city is contractually obligated to put in the amenities under the development agreement it has with Merge Urban Development. That is the developer planning to build 225 apartment units at the Shipyard.

On Tuesday, the RDA also approved a term sheet with Impact Seven, who plans to spend $60 million to build another 238 units at the former Badger Sheet Metal site, across Broadway from the Shipyard site.

“Even in this economy, the fact that we've got two developers that are still moving forward, they're still investing time and money, that is a good sign,” said Neil Stechschulte, Green Bay’s economic development director.

City officials conservatively estimate the two projects will have a combined value of about $43 million. They're confident the tax revenue generated from them, and perhaps other projects, will cover the money borrowed for the public amenities.

Phase two of the public amenities includes a great lawn, a dog park, an urban beach, and a playground.

City officials say the National Park Service grant will require some investment from the city. They aren’t sure if the phase one investments can be counted toward that requirement.

“It brings us much closer to actually fulfilling that original vision of the Shipyard,” Genrich said of the grant.

The city has already been awarded $1.8 million from various grants.

The city expects the phase one amenities to be ready next spring. Construction on phase two could then begin next summer.

City officials say soil issues will likely push the start of construction on the Merge apartments to next year.

Impact Seven also hopes to start construction on its apartments early next year.

Under its development agreement, Merge could receive up to $7.5 million back from the tax revenue the apartments generate.

Impact Seven still needs to negotiate a development agreement, but its term sheet with the city calls for it to receive 70 percent of the tax revenue its apartments generates through 2042. The purchase price for the property would be $400,000.

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