GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Green Bay’s central city could soon take on a new look. Development leaders are proposing a number of changes aimed at bringing people back downtown.
At Voyageurs Bakehouse Chad Bishop says the past year has been hard, with the pandemic keeping many customers away.
“There has been a lot of struggle, we’re still hoping people come out,” Bishop said.
A painful reality felt by most businesses in the central city, that economic experts like Matt Buchanan are trying to change.
“We saw this continued issue with businesses needing to operate outdoors,” said Buchanan.
Green Bay’s Economic Development Authority has developed the “Shared Corridor Vision” plan, aimed at making the downtown district more accommodating for cyclists and pedestrians by adding pick-up and drop-off zones, bike lanes, pavement art and something known as a parklet.
“You take a parking stall, a side parking stall and you build a deck-like structure,” Buchanan said.
“It allows folks in your inner city that don’t have space for those outdoor spaces, to intrude into a parking stall,” said Alderperson Brian Johnson.
Johnson says it’s all about attracting people back to the downtown. Especially those not comfortable going inside a business.
“They are a great way for a business to expand their operation outdoors in a time like Covid,” said Buchanan.
Johnson says parklets are in cities like Madison and Milwaukee. Here they’d take up no more than two parking spaces and would require a city permit. He says the EDA wants to offer a $25,000 grant program to help businesses with the associated costs.
“It’s about getting people comfortable with getting back out into the community and in the public. This is about finding ways to attract people downtown,” Johnson said.
Back to businesses like Voyageurs Bakehouse.
“When we can have people outside and socially distanced and safe with masks on, I think it would be amazing for our business,” Bishop said.
“This is about finding ways to attract people downtown,” said Johnson.
Buchanan says the proposal still needs to be finalized and approved by the City Council.