A very visible sign of Antigo’s downtown redevelopment emerged this morning, amid a cloud of dust and rubble.
City crews and equipment hammered down three decrepit buildings along the 600 block of Fifth Avenue, creating the first visible view in decades of Spring Brook as it begins to flow south from the downtown.
The work began shortly after 8 a.m., and by noon, the buildings that most recently housed Koeppel Printing, the Fifth Precinct Tavern and a dilapidated trinket shop were little more than a pile of debris. Hauling will take much of the rest of the week and then the area will likely be secured in some way for the winter months.
The work is part of the city’s overall Peaceful Valley redevelopment project, a keystone to what city officials hope will be a revitalization of the downtown area.
The work, mixing public and private endeavors, involves removing blighted buildings and capping or containing underground contamination that dates to the years when the area was home to the a railway beltline and a host of heavy industries.
It includes construction of the Stellar Development office building at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Superior Street. The project is funded partially through a city loan along with private dollars.
The builders have indicated that several of the office suites are already rented and the structure may draw on a mix of professions related to the new Langlade Hospital now under construction a few blocks to the northeast.
Work slated for next spring and summer includes constructing a parking lot on the east side of Spring Brook to cap a contaminated area left behind by the old Antigo Co-op Oil Association. The area will also have lighting, landscaping, a bike path and sidewalk as it is incorporated into a festival/recreation area.
Plans also call for construction of a bike path between Fifth and Sixth avenues extending through the opening creating by the removal of the buildings.
The work is being funded partially through a $153,000 Brownfield Grant from the Department of Commerce as well as tax incremental finance district funds.
Some of the redevelopment has already been completed. Derelict buildings between Sixth and Seventh avenues have been removed and the area is now home to the Peaceful Valley park, with a community-built playground, substantial warming house and, in winter, ice skating facility.
The city has also taken ownership of shoreland along the creek south of Seventh Avenue and cleared a disused building.