ASHWAUBENON – The game-changing Titletown District is a go.
The Ashwaubenon Village Board on Tuesday approved the first phase of the project immediately west of Lambeau Field. Construction is expected to begin before the end of March.
"This is a very exciting day for the organization," said Aaron Popkey, Packers director of public affairs. "It's been a very thorough process with the village. There were very few matters that took a lot of time to work through."
Titletown District is 34-plus acres, all in the village, bordered by Lombardi Avenue, South Ridge Road, Marlee Lane and Brookwood Drive.
Announced anchors include Lodge Kohler, a four-star hotel and spa; Hinterland Brewery and a Bellin Health sports medicine clinic. Initial investment in the project, including land acquisition and infrastructure improvements by the Packers, is estimated at $120 million to $130 million.
Village President Michael Aubinger said Titletown District will generate up to $100 million in tax base.
"We've done the best we could," he said. "Will we have to tweak it later on? That might be true."
Phase 1 consists of 21 acres, including six acres of the planned 10-acre public park and plaza. The Packers have said they will work on the rest of the project once they get the anchors and plaza underway. Total team investment will be about $65 million, Ed Policy, vice president and general counsel, said in August.
The district also will have 180,000 square feet of additional commercial space along Lombardi Avenue and Marlee Lane, and as many as 70 townhouses along Brookwood Drive.
The plan calls for the anchors to open by the beginning of the 2017 NFL season.
"We're all set. We're ready to go," said Michael Cantor of Sterling Project Development, the Packers' project manager.
Hinterland Brewery owner Bill Tressler said his plans should be finalized this week, and construction will begin by the end of the month.
The Packers announced the plan at the end of August after months of speculation. Aubinger said the village and team began talking about development as early as 2009, though the specific Titletown District plan was solidified only during the last year.
The plan received tweaks during the past month of meetings, including the addition of a sidewalk on the west side of South Ridge Road and in front of Lodge Kohler. Designers did not initially include a sidewalk — they were unaware it would be a requirement because no sidewalk exists now — and opted instead for more landscaping to shield first-floor suites with patios. They still will have about 4 or 5 feet in which to plant screening shrubbery. The village argued the sidewalk was a public safety issue.
The heart of the project is the 10-acre public plaza and park that will include an ice skating pond in winter, an event area and a football field-sized green space. The Packers hired a consultant to help them program the space. Though it will be privately owned, the park will be open to the public.
The Packers hand-picked the three anchor tenants. “It was important to us that they commit to use Titletown as a major growth platform,” Policy said at the time.
The four-star Lodge Kohler will have 150 rooms on five floors, an indoor/outdoor pool and gardens, a spa and a fitness center. It will have limited event and meeting space, instead using Lambeau Field for those services.
Hinterland Brewery plans a 20,000- to 25,000-square-foot brewery, tap room and restaurant, compared to the 9,000 square feet in its downtown Green Bay building. It will move all its operations to the Titletown District, with Copper Rock Coffee of Appleton slated to buy Hinterland’s downtown building. The brewery produced about 5,500 barrels of beer last year, but Hinterland will increase capacity to 20,000 at the new location. It will offer brewery tours and have two dining rooms, one with the tap room and a more intimate one on the second floor, and start lunch service. It will offer craft beer and merchandise sales, as well.
Bellin Health plans a sports medicine clinic that will be staffed by Dr. Patrick McKenzie, the Packers’ medical director, and others who work with McKenzie or the Packers. The approximately 30,000-square-foot clinic will offer diagnostics, labs and MRI services as well as medical care and physical therapy.
Also Tuesday, the village board failed to approve a transitional residential facility, also known as a party house, at 1071 Brookwood Drive. The motion died on a 3-3 vote after Aubinger and Mark Williams, his opponent for village president, led opposition to the request. Aubinger said the village should have a moratorium until it can develop a policy on how and where they should be allowed. The issue will be on the board's next agenda.
Aubinger said people in residential areas need to know if they could one morning wake up to a party house next door. Until Tuesday, the village was issuing conditional use permits, which allowed exceptions to zoning.
"We have to protect our neighborhoods because we have few of them," he said.
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