(WINONA, MINN) Building on the successes of a number of recent projects that are bringing more jobs and housing to the city, Opportunity Winona released information today about new plans to create additional housing development in downtown Winona. Opportunity Winona remains focused on redevelopment in the core of the downtown that unites the public and private sector to create new development and investment in Winona.
The new project involves making it possible for Main Square Winona to move forward with the second phase of its development that would create a new four-story building with apartments and a two-story parking deck.
“This is another important way we can again bring ideas and investment together to create projects that are important for Winona and our momentum,” said Winona Mayor Mark Peterson. “Main Square’s next phase will help create more new housing and add parking. The energy from each of these projects carries forward to what’s next. In addition to being excited about this news, we are equally excited to see what can happen next.”
Part of the process for the development to move forward involves Metro Plains, the current owner of the land at 166 West Broadway, requesting a plat to legally separate the school auditorium from Washington Crossing – an apartment building that used be the Winona Middle School. The auditorium has been vacant since 2000 and the building has been severely damaged by water intrusion, and other general decay. The school building was converted to housing in 2004.
The City of Winona has recently made investments over $2 million to begin Phases I and II of the restoration and renovation of the historic Winona Masonic Temple Theater. After completion of the final Phase of this project, and relocation of the Senior Friendship Center, the building will serve as the downtown hub of arts and cultural activities for the entire community.
Main Square LLC proposes to purchase the auditorium property and continue work plans for the second phase of its project that will include new luxury apartments along 5th Street. This will join the existing housing, office spaces, Winona Health Clinic, Italian bistro and the Main Square Montessori School that were part of the project’s first phase.
Main Square Winona will also design and develop a two-story parking deck on the property adjacent to the former Winona Middle School. Spaces will be used by new residents and customers of the project. The remaining spaces will be made available via a leasing agreement with the City of Winona. These additional spaces will help support and potentially attract other businesses to the city.
“This really shows the strength of the partnership that is the foundation of Opportunity Winona,” said Christie Ransom, President and CEO of the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce. “New housing gives us more ways to bring people to live in Winona and the new parking in our downtown will help bring more customers and ideally more businesses as well.”
In addition to creating the new housing, city leaders also wanted to take advantage of the fact that this part of the city was designated as an Opportunity Zone. Opportunity Zones were created to revitalize economically distressed communities using private investments instead of taxpayer dollars. The goal is to attract private investment in Opportunity Zone areas in exchange for capital gains tax incentives. In exchange for investing in Qualified Opportunity Zones, investors have the ability to access capital gains tax incentives both immediately and over the long term.
The benefits from the Opportunity Zone will allow the Main Square team to be able to invest additional money into the project. In order for the project to move forward, the city will need to change the legal classification of the property and Main Square Winona will need to then purchase the auditorium parcel.
“We really have a lot of important factors in alignment that make this project make sense,” said Bob Kierlin of Main Square. “The Opportunity Zone gives us an opportunity to make the Main Square investment do even more. The new parking is important as our downtown continues to grow and we look at other projects and opportunities. We also needed to make the important but complex decision about the auditorium. While no one likes seeing an old building torn down, the work Winona has done to revitalize the Masonic theater has created the art resource we have wanted here for years.”
“We are really excited to be able to move forward with the second phase of this special project,” said Kierlin with Main Square Winona. “The Montessori school and the first part of Main Square’s housing have been a great success. We really wanted to bring new energy to the downtown and being able to complete the next phase will further the vision.”
The Main Square Winona’s team is working on final plans for the project’s second phase, as well as for the parking deck. They expect to begin construction this spring for phase II.
About Opportunity Winona
Opportunity Winona was created in 2015 by public and private sector leaders to encourage and coordinate investment in the downtown area to create new jobs, housing, and commercial activity to benefit the entire community. It brings together the Winona Port Authority, the City of Winona, the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce, and Winona Main Street along with others from the business, education and health care communities. To learn more please visit www.opportunitywinona.com.
Mike Zipko 651-269-8756