Revitalizing riverfront site
Group to invest in Fremont
By Angie Landsverk
Friends of Fremont plans to turn the former Channel Cats Bar and Restaurant property on the Wolf River into a multi-use outdoor space.
The property is located at 204 Wolf Drive, and the business was closed and on the market for some time.
An auction was posted in mid-summer, becoming the impetus in August for about a dozen businesses and individuals to form Friends of Fremont.
Friends of Fremont is a limited liability company (LLC) made up of people passionate about investing in the community.
Allison Gleisner is a member of Friends of Fremont, who speaks about plans for the property.
“We believe in and are willing to invest time and resources in the continuous improvement of Fremont,” she said.
A founding member seeded the idea of revitalizing the Channel Cats space, but the call to action did not come until the auction was posted, Gleisner said.
In a matter of weeks, Friends of Fremont formed and collected enough donations from its members for the down payment and auction fees required to bid on the property.
The auction was on Aug. 21, and the LLC had the winning bid.
It closed on the property on Sept. 20.
Many members of Friends of Fremont have played roles in the community by sitting on boards, being members of local clubs and churches, supporting area fundraisers and running local businesses, Gleisner said.
“In the last five years the area has seen new energy, in part due to a large number of local businesses that have went under new ownership,” she said. “More people than ever are being exposed to this great area and are spreading the word about our hidden gem we call home.”
Friends of Fremont wants to capture that energy, harnessing it into something that provides the community and visitors with a space all may enjoy.
The specifics of the new, multi-use outdoor space have not yet been determined.
The LLC intends to get design guidance to increase the usage based on available space, area demographics, desired visitors, funding available and more, she said.
“At this point we know the building, or the majority of the building, will not remain. The docks will remain,” Gleisner said.
She said Friends of Fremont is developing a project plan and timeline.
To repay the remaining balance of its loan and fund the creation of the new space, the organization plans to raise capital in a number of ways.
First, the contents of Channel Cats will be auctioned, including the tables, kitchen equipment, windows, trusses, HVAC system and other elements.
The process to make sure all the equipment is in working order has already begun, Gleisner said.
In addition, Friends of Fremont has connected with a firm to help determine the structural value of the building as a whole or if parceled.
She said the organization is moving ahead with the decommissioning phase of the project as soon as possible.
“Even with the sale of all the physical assets, there is still a significant amount of fundraising that will need to take place,” Gleisner said.
When appropriate, Friends of Fremont plans to reach out to the community with updates and seek support in the form of money, time, talent and resources, she said.
People are encouraged to follow its Facebook page for updates on the initiative, and to learn how they may get involved.
“We are sincerely grateful for the many words of support and the outreach we’ve received so far. This is a huge undertaking but having the backing of the entire community makes the effort worth it,” Gleisner said.