Doc Atty’s downtown project nixed
By Angie Landsverk
A day after plans for a brewery on Churchill Street went before Waupaca’s Plan Commission, the city learned the Doc Atty’s project on Main Street is not moving forward.
The partners in the Doc Atty’s project could not secure the necessary private financing to start the project, according to Brennan Kane, the city’s community and economic development director.
“We’re certainly disappointed that the project’s not moving forward,” he said.
The city was excited about the redevelopment of a downtown building.
“It would have been a great kickstarter for other opportunities on Main Street,” Kane said. “We were definitely supportive of the project.”
Last Oct. 30, the city issued a building permit for the project at 109 N. Main St.
That followed years of discussions and months of negotiations between the city and the developers.
Construction of the brewery, distillery, winery was to be completed by June 1, with $1.2 million being invested into the restoration of the building.
During the the city’s Jan. 10 Plan Commission meeting, Kane said that as far as he knew, no work had yet begun inside the building.
The next day, Dr. Jan Bax, one of the partners in the project, met briefly with City Administrator Henry Veleker.
Kane was subsequently notified in writing the project will not happen.
Now, the city has to notify the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) as well.
“We are notifying WEDC that the project is no longer moving forward and doing the necessary steps to close it out,” Kane said.
That is because in July 2016, the city entered into an agreement with WEDC to receive a $225,739 grant to go toward the Doc Atty’s project.
The city applied for the grant through the Community Development Investment Grant program and did so on behalf of Doc Atty’s.
“Work has to be done in order to be reimbursed,” Kane said. “Since work was not done, we didn’t submit anything to WEDC.”
The grant was specific to the Doc Atty’s project, so it cannot be transferred to a different project, Kane said.
The city will work with the owners of the building to help them find a tenant, or sell it to a new investor.
Kane said the city is investing a significant amount of money into a plan to reconstruct and redevelop Main Street. as well as to update Rotary Riverview Park and reconstruct the parking around City Hall.
While it is a disappointment the Doc Atty’s project will not take place, the city hopes improvements planned for downtown create an environment that is attractive for investment in the buildings, he said.
Kane said the city also wants to see investments that attract people of all generations to its downtown.
The city is excited about other downtown projects, especially the Danes Hall renovation.
The Koehler family is community oriented and reinvesting in the building, Kane said.
The city continues to work with the family on the idea to create an outdoor plaza in that area.
In another part of the city, plans are underway to open a brewery and taproom at 804 Churchill St., in the former Waupaca Family Center building.
Mike Stroik and Brandon Oltmann hope to have H.H Hinder Brewing Company open there by Memorial Day weekend.
They presented their plan to the Plan Commission on Jan. 10.
The brewery will be in the back half of the building, with the taproom in the front half, said Stroik, an Amherst native who lives in Hartford and owns a construction business.
Oltmann lives in Anherst Junction and has been brewing beer for years.
“He used to work at Central Waters as one of their main brewers, so he has the experience and the background,” Kane said of Oltmann.
Stroik said they spent more than a year looking for a site in Waupaca, before deciding on the Churchill Street building, which they initially looked at for their business.
The Plan Commission recommended approval of a special use permit for the brewery and taproom, as well as approval of rezoning the property from Light Industrial District to Neighborhood Business District.
Other properties in the area are also being recommended to be rezoned from Light Industrial to Neighborhood.
Kane said the change will follow the city’s Comprehensive Plan and today’s character of the neighborhood.
Both requests will need to go before the common council.
The Plan Commission approved the site plan, which does not get forwarded to the council.
Kane said the special use permit and rezoning request will go before the council after off-street shared parking agreements are reached with adjacent property owners.
Approximately 35 parking stalls are required for the brewery/taproom, and there are about five stalls in front of the building.
Shared parking agreements with neighboring businesses are not uncommon, Kane said.
Anytime Fitness and Dominos have one on the west side of the city, he said.
H.H. Hinder Brewing Company will be located next to the Waupaca Area Food Pantry.
The city has already received a letter from the food pantry, saying it is willing to partner with the brewery and provide cross access parking, Kane said.
“I’m confident we will get parking agreements in place with adjacent property owners,” he said.
Stroik said he understands the process, as he is a member of the Plan Commission where he lives and has done a lot of site development for businesses.
He is confident the brewery will be a good neighbor and said they are willing to make lighting and striping improvements as well.
“We’re remodeling the entire building,” Stroik said. “I think you won’t recognize it when you go inside.”
He also explained the meaning behind the “H.H” in the brewery’s name.
The letters stand for his father-in-law and his father, Howard and Harry, Stroik said.
In addition to selling the beer they brew, they plan to have a limited menu in the beginning and sell merchandise as well.
Kane is excited about the project.
He said there have been discussions about the need to get more activity on this corridor.
He described the project as “the shot in the arm needed for the area” and said, “Mike and Brandon are going all in with this project.”