When the Library Block redevelopment project was first proposed for downtown Platteville, it combined a new library, hotel, housing, Neighborhood Health Partners clinic, retail space and parking.
The current iteration of the Library Block project includes a new library and hotel — a 72-room Holiday Inn Express. It doesn’t include a new clinic, but it moves the clinic to the current library space after renovation.
The project no longer has apartments for students or adults, which were in previous versions of the concept, or retail space. It also includes less parking than originally planned.
The project also no longer takes up the entire Library Block — South Chestnut, West Pine, South Elm and West Main streets. It is envisioned as a $16 million project, instead of the original estimate of $19 million to $21 million. The project still is much larger in value than the estimated combined value of the buildings currently on the block, less than $1 million.
Two meetings were held last week to unveil the current proposal, at Wisconsin Bank & Trust Wednesday and the Platteville Regional Chamber Good Morning Platteville Thursday.
The project’s timetable is a few months behind the previous timetable, but it is still projected to be completed by the summer of 2016.
The Library Block presently includes the library, the Block, Scott & Heenan Law Offices and Block Apartments, the Neighborhood Health Partners clinic owned by the Southwest Wisconsin Community Action Program, a dance studio, a real estate office, three houses, and a 16-stall parking lot shared by the library and First English Lutheran Church. Block, Scott & Heenan’s building is the former Cunningham Hospital.
The new version of the project includes a 72-room Holiday Inn Express hotel and a 22,000-square-foot library, more than double the size of the current library. The new library would include a 100-person meeting room and conference room for 10 to 12 people on its second floor. It also would include areas geared to teen and tween readers.
“We worked very closely with the architect to ensure that our needs have been met,” said library director Jessie Lee-Jones. “We’ve discussed workflow and patron needs.”
The current library would be renovated into the clinic, with commercial lease space also available at the 10,459-square-foot site.
City Director of Community Development Joe Carroll said the clinic was originally planned for 7,500 square feet. “Southwest CAP can decide if they’ll use all 10,000 square feet for the clinic,” he said. “That’s really their call if they want to utilize all that space or bring someone else in.”
The project would have 55 underground parking spaces and a 42 stalls of surface parking. That is less parking than the previous plan of 122 underground parking stalls, with 81 of them dedicated to public use on the first underground level, to go with 24 parking stalls in the courtyard.
Parking concerns helped shelve two aspects of the project — student housing and retail — along with a required larger hotel.
Carroll said Holiday Inn Express required more rooms and square footage. At the same time, when the UW–Platteville Real Estate Foundation “was questionable if they’d be involved,” developer United Development Solutions reconsidered the housing component of the project.
According to a Q&A sheet on the city’s website, “It was determined that a housing component to this development made the project too dense.”
Carroll said the developer also considered “more underground parking, but if you dig down further, it gets more expensive.”
The retail component was also shelved “primarily due to concerns about parking,” said Carroll. “You have a limited amount of space on the block for parking, and the more [building] space you have the more parking you need.”
Another parking issue — the parking lot shared by the library and First English Lutheran Church at the southeast corner of West Pine Street and South Main Street — resulted in the project’s not taking up the entire block.
Carroll said the developer decided against pursuing the church parking lot over concerns that the congregation might not approve the lot’s sale. “He didn’t think he could wait that long with the possibility it might not be approved,” said Carroll.
Because of the renovation of the current library building, the Platteville Public Schools O.E. Gray building is not likely be used as a temporary library location after all. The school district had a lease starting in May for several O.E. Gray rooms, but the renovation of the current library is expected to take place after the new library is completed.
“That is the goal” to move only once, instead of twice, said Lee-Jones. “It will be likely be very challenging, but it’s something we’ve accepted will be worth it — the savings the city will realize with not having to move twice.”
The Library Block has five properties for which property taxes are assessed. Those five properties have a combined assessed value of $916,400, and combined annual property tax bills of $20,880.93, according to the City of Platteville’s GIS website and Grant County property tax records. The three tax-exempt properties are the library, the NHP clinic, and the parking lot.
The project’s cost is estimated at $16 million, with $4 million in New Market Tax Credits and $1.5 million in private equity. The rest would be financed out of Tax Incremental Financing District 7 and additional private financing.
The Platteville Library Board and the city Plan Commission are expected to tackle the plan in February or March, with the Common Council voting on the project in April or May. The Plan Commission meets at the Municipal Building Monday at 7 p.m., and the Library Board meets at the library Tuesday at 6 p.m. Carroll said the Library Block project is on the commission’s March agenda.
Once the council approves the project and the last property is acquired, demolition of the seven buildings that will be torn down and site preparation will take place in July or August, with construction to run from August until July.