With clearing of the site and the beginning of construction scheduled for this year, nearly all of the parcels of land that are supposed to be part of the city’s Library Block project are now owned by the project’s developer.
There is one exception, however, and it is a complicated exception.
The Southwest Wisconsin Community Action Program still owns the building that houses the Neighborhood Health Partners clinic at 275 W. Main St. SWCAP hasn’t sold the building because SWCAP has no temporary home for the clinic.
“We didn’t know we were going to be needing a temporary location until Wednesday of last week,” said Jackie Bodden, N.P., the clinic program director. “The developer kept telling us that he was making arrangements and we wouldn’t have to relocate, but Wednesday we found out that that was not the case.”
The clinic’s problem is that it needs a building to meet federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration codes for medical facilities, but only until it moves into the current library building. The year or more the clinic would be at a new location means the clinic has to officially move to the interim facility under federal law because, said Bodden, “You can’t provide services under Medicaid or insurance at a location that isn’t your practice location.”
Bodden said the clinic needs about 3,000 square feet, with “two or three exam rooms,” a lab and other facilities “for 14 months, so there’s going to be money into renovating space. Fiscally this is going to have some impact on us.
“We’ve been looking. There isn’t really a lot out there.”
The Library Block 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. The entire project is slated to be completed by next summer.
The Library Block’s original plan encompassed the entire block — West Main Street, South Chestnut Street, West Pine Street and South Elm Street — but was reduced in size after a parking lot owned by First English Lutheran Church was removed from the project, and after a new clinic was eliminated in favor of renovating the current 10,000-square-foot library for the clinic in January. Eliminating apartments, retail and some parking reduced the project from the original estimate of $19 million to $21 million to an estimated $16 million.
The city had approved a lease agreement with Platteville Public Schools to move the library’s contents to the O.E. Gray building, but those plans were dropped when the smaller project went forward.
Including street parking, the new library’s footprint extends the entire width of the 200 block of West Main Street, including the clinic site.
The clinic has 600 to 700 patients. It is the largest of the NHP clinics by far, and is open Mondays through Thursdays. The Monroe clinic is open Mondays and Thursdays, the Dodgeville clinic is open on Tuesdays, and the Darlington clinic is open on the second and fourth Thursday of the month.
One possible site for the clinic is the former site of the Platteville Police Department, on the east side of the first floor of the Municipal Building.
“It’s not that the city hasn’t stepped up; we have to look at pros and cons,” said Bodden. “It’s still patients finding you, lost revenue, when the patients find you in a new location.
“We haven’t exhausted all our options yet. I am not closed to any suggestions. We thought we had a plan in place, and then we didn’t.”
“Any suggestions” includes possibly moving out of Platteville. Any move requires approval of the SWCAP board, which hasn’t met on this subject, Bodden said.
“That’s not an impossible scenario,” she said. “What if we really like it in a new location?
“Nobody wants to move twice. Ours is more concerning because who is going to let you move if you’re just going to be there temporarily?”
Other tenants of Library Block buildings have moved, or are in the process of moving, elsewhere. Block, Scott & Heenan, whose building was the former Cunningham Hospital, is now at 15 W. Pine St. Bruce Shanley Realty is now at 120 E. Main St. The house at 70 S. Chestnut St. is moving to 515 E. Main St., to be the eighth house moved by developer Mark Ihm.
Next door to the clinic, Southwest Academy of Ballet Arts, at 235 W. Main St., has been looking for a new building for 18 months, but has been so far unsuccessful.
“If I don’t find something by mid-August, I won’t be able to hold classes in Platteville this next season,” said director Summer Hamille. “Most of the places I’ve looked for are asking for $10 a square foot, which is an impossibly high rent. I only have classes in Platteville three evenings a week when my students are out of school and work, so I don’t pull in enough monthly income to meet this kind of rent plus utilities and insurance, not to mention a small salary for myself.”
Hamille hopes to find space for SABA and the Belmont/Platteville Youth Wrestling group, which is looking to move out of the unheated room in the former St. Mary’s School building for larger space.
“I thought if we joined forces we might be able to afford a suitable space for our needs,” she said. “So I asked and they agreed. We’ve been searching jointly now for about four months.”
SABA and the wrestling group are looking for a large, open area of at least 1,100 square feet and 10- to 12-foot ceilings, with a couple of smaller areas for a dressing room and office/storage area, and a lobby or waiting area.
“It would be ideal to have two separate rooms of about 1,000 feet for each group to hold their own training sessions and for others to rent the space suitable to their needs,” said Hamille.
SABA uses a floating wood floor over 2x2 boards with foam underneath to prevent stress fractures and joint trauma. The wrestlers use mats for training.
“It will be inconvenient for the wrestlers to have to roll up their mats after each practice and the dancers to avoid them in class with a shared location,” said Hamille. “but if that’s what we have to do, then that’s what we’ll do.”
Anyone with information on potential space for SABA and the wrestlers can email Hamille, BalletArts.SABA@gmail.com, or Molly Wiegel, email@example.com.
The Library Block project has already had to clear one hurdle, the design of the West Main Street and South Chestnut Street sides of the project, after objections by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission. The project is in between the city’s Main Street Historic District, which ends at Chestnut Street, and the West Main Street Historic District, which starts at Elm Street.
The Common Council approved the design of the rest of the building March 24, and the north and west sides of the building April 14. The Library Board, which includes representatives from Platteville Public Schools and the Grant County Board of Supervisors, approved the design April 20.
The developer agreement with Miners Development LLC — Troy Hoekstra of St. Cloud, Minn. — was approved April 30, 3½ hours before the deadline for the agreement to be approved. The council approved a letter of intent with United Development Solutions June 9, in which the city agrees to lease commercial space from the developer at $10 per square foot for at least seven years.
Director of Administration Duane Borgen said the terms of the lease are in negotiations and have not been finalized.
The project financing includes $16.1 million in federal New Market Tax Credits, which will convert to $4 million in project equity. The rest of the project equity will come from $2 million in cash and a $2 million loan from the city’s Tax Incremental Financing District 7, according to the agreement.
The New Market Tax Credits come from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority and from Forward Community Investments, a Madison community development financial institution.