City examines downtown housing
Street-level residences considered
By Angie Landsverk
A group is being established in the city of Waupaca to study the idea of allowing first-floor residential housing downtown.
The common council unanimously approved the idea when it met on May 16.
“It will be a semi ad hoc committee. It will be a working group,” said Mayor Brian Smith.
The group is expected to make a recommendation to the city’s Plan Commission in July.
Smith said 60 days is “pretty aggressive.”
While it is a zoning issue, it is also about economic development, the mayor said.
He said it might help bring more businesses downtown.
“We have to make sure it is right for the city and right for the downtown area,” Smith said. “We have to do our due diligence as we go through the whole process.”
Residential housing on Main Street has been a topic of discussion the past two months for the city’s Plan Commission.
“My department has received a couple requests from downtown business owners about the possibility of having residential on the first floor,” said Brennan Kane, the city’s community and economic development director.
Under the city’s current ordinance, residential housing must be on the second floor in the city’s Central Business District.
There are a few single-story buildings on Main Street.
The former hair salon Rick and Tammy Wolter recently bought at 112 N. Main St. is one of them.
The couple wants to turn the building into a live/work situation.
She is an artist and wants to have about 750 square feet of retail space on the Main Street level.
The couple wants to create a living space on the back side, which faces Cooper Street, as well as a studio in the lower level.
They noticed the building while wandering down Main Street in January.
The Wolters were looking for space to rent when they discovered this building was in foreclosure.
Building a second story on the building for residential to comply with the city’s current ordinance is cost prohibitive for them.
She believes the Cooper Street side of Waupaca has “amazing potential” and said they have met a few neighbors.
“There is some living happening back there on other levels,” she said. “We need further input before we move forward.”