In the long history of New Holstein, the property and building which everyone still calls Tecumseh played an important role.
And even though Tecumseh Products Company has been gone from New Holstein for seven years, the storied location might not be done providing opportunity to the community.
There has been no activity inside the massive structure—over 400,000 square feet—for close to half a dozen years now since an attempt by Heus Manufacturing to establish its business into a portion of the building failed.
But there has been plenty of activity in recent years inside meeting rooms at New Holstein City Hall as City of New Holstein officials and members of the New Holstein Economic Development Corporation (NHEDC) have quietly worked to push this boulder of an issue along a path to what they hope is future redevelopment.
The NHEDC worked on the issue for many months, and it was a focal point of the group’s strategic plan prepared by Vierbicher Associates. Then in a meeting with Naleta Burr of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the NHEDC was told by Burr that the city would benefit from creating either a Housing Authority or a Community Development Authority (CDA). Burr said having one of those organizations could help in acquiring state grants to plan for the redevelopment of the property.
After some discussion by the NHEDC and city officials, it was decided to go the route of creating a CDA as that organization could oversee (per state statutes) both public housing issues and redevelopment of blighted areas. The Common Council approved the creation of a CDA and the members appointed by Mayor Dianne Reese, and the group met for the first time on June 13, 2013.
State statutes also require the CDA board to have a certain composition, including being residents of the community and having representation from that city’s common council. The chairperson of New Holstein’s CDA is former city clerk Mike Stutz, who commended Mayor Reese for her appointments to the board. Alderman Bob Bosma is the vice chairperson, Diane Thorson is the treasurer and City Clerk Casey Langenfeld is the secretary. Other members are Alderman Ron Karrels, Scott Konkle and Brian Giebel. Konkle works for East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, and Giebel has experience in planning at the county level.
Stutz said the CDA had held several meetings when Konkle suggested they bring in Randy Stadtmueller of Neenah-based Stadtmueller & Associates to have a general discussion about the former Tecumseh site. Stadtmueller later toured the factory and suggested the CDA seek an outside consultant to create a redevelopment plan for the site. “We all recognized that, yes, this makes sense, we need to have a redevelopment master plan,” Stutz said.
The CDA obtained proposals from three companies and met with each of them. It has recommended that the bid be awarded to Stadtmueller & Associates. “We wanted to pick whoever would do the best job,” Stutz said. “They did a lot of jobs in the Fox Valley with old paper mills.” Stadtmueller & Associates also played a role in the development of Chilton’s Uptown Commons residential facility and, as Stutz said, helped convert former paper mills into commercial and/ or residential developments.
The CDA has not yet awarded the bid to Stadtmueller & Associates as it is waiting to hear whether or not it will receive a grant it has applied for through the WEDC. The grant would help pay for the redevelopment plan. Funding also will be coming from the City of New Holstein and the NHEDC to help pay for the redevelopment plan.
If the CDA does proceed with having Stadtmueller come up with a redevelopment plan, it would start with three general citizen meetings to explore community attitudes and build a community vision for redevelopment of the site. A summary of the ideas brought up at these meetings would be published.
Stutz said it is likely that part of those public meetings would be spent educating attendees about the poor condition of much of the facility and how that might play into whatever redevelopment recommendations are made. Copper wiring has been stripped from much if not all the building, and there are major roof issues over a good deal of the facility. Stutz said it is possible Stadtmueller could require additional engineering assistance in assessing the future of the building.
In addition to the public meetings, Stadtmueller also would prepare a master development plan and master land division plan; prepare a commercial and/or industrial property value report based on the land division plan; prepare and implement a public relations and marketing plan; and assist with the submission of grants and/or applications for public funds to support redevelopment of the site.
“They will go in with an open mind, a clean slate,” Stutz said of the process. “I think initially they want to see what ideas are out there.”
Education also will be done about the environmental status of the site. Tecum-
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