GREEN BAY – Green Bay will receive a $6 million federal grant to clean up a contaminated former sheet metal factory site and build more public facilities in a shipyard redevelopment area.
If all goes according to plan, residents will have a chance to watch some federally funded work take place on the new Riverwalk being built on the 16-acre Shipyard site, which is located on the west bank north of the Fox River. Mason Street Viaduct.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the city a $1 million brownfield cleanup grant to address various soil and groundwater contamination issues at the former Badger Sheet Metal site on South Broadway. The National Park Service awarded the city a $5 million Land and Water Conservation Fund grant for the second phase of recreation improvements.
Matt Buchanan, senior economic development analyst for the city of Green Bay, said the grants should cover most of the costs associated with two separate projects expected to start in 2024.
What is the Green Bay Shipyard Redevelopment Area?
The Shipyard redevelopment area is roughly bounded by Mason Street, Fox River, Ashland Avenue and Bridge Street. The city first developed plans in 2017 to redevelop unused industrial land in the area and vacant city-owned riverfront property into a new baseball stadium for the Green Bay Rockers, an indoor concert venue and a sports bar. .
When the concert venue and stadium moved to Ashwaubenon, the city revised its site plan to focus on multifamily housing, public recreational space and a commercial plaza along South Broadway. Iowa-based Merge Urban Development expects to begin construction on a two-building, 225-unit apartment complex in early 2024.
The city created a Tax Increment Financing District (TIF) for the site and borrowed approximately $12.1 million to pay for property acquisition, site preparation and the first phase of public amenities.
When will the Dockyard Riverwalk open to the public?
The grant arrives as construction crews continue the first phase of public improvements on the 16-acre site on the west bank of the Fox River, north of the Mason Street overpass.
The first phase of work includes:
- Riverside Promenade/Intermodal Path,
- floating dock,
- fishing pier,
- habitat improvements, and
- Accessible kayak launch
Buchanan said the work should be completed by spring 2024, but the timing will depend on various factors that could impact the construction project, including weather and supply chains.
“We’re probably still doing landscaping and finishing touches in the spring, but expect to open in the summer,” Buchanan said.
Dog park, playground plans underway, $5 million to fund
A $5 million grant from the National Park Service will fund a second phase of public improvements that will build on the first phase of work. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., supported the grant and announced the award on Oct. 6, saying the grant enables the city to protect the environment and redevelop land, thereby promoting economic growth in the area.
Phase 2 plans include a playground, an event lawn, a dog park and an urban beach at the south end of the site.
The Green Bay City Council must formally accept the grant, but Buchanan said the city has already done a lot of preliminary engineering work on the plans. Once the grant is received, he said, the city will hire an engineering firm to create construction documents for contractors to put out bids.
He said the tentative timetable for the second phase of work would begin in late 2024.
EPA grant will clean up arsenic, PCBs, lead and asbestos found at Badger sheet metal plant
One of the sites the city purchased for redevelopment is the former Badger Sheet Metal site at 420 S. Broadway, the tentative site for a 238-unit housing development proposed last year.
Buchanan said the EPA’s $1 million grant will cover much of the cost of demolishing the building, removing much of the contaminated soil and covering the site with clean dirt to prepare it for reconstruction. He added that the city will continue to seek additional grants to offset future project costs in the shipyard redevelopment area.
The site was originally a swamp (pronounced “sloo”) that flowed into the Fox River. Between 1907 and 1936, the land was filled in to create more land for industrial development. Buchanan said some of the soil used to fill the site was contaminated.
Decades of industrial use have further contaminated soil and groundwater. Tests conducted at the site found volatile organic compounds such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, benzene, tetrachlorethylene, arsenic, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Sheet metal buildings contain asbestos and lead-based paint, which need to be carefully removed from the site.
“Green infrastructure corridor” aims to help solve flooding problem
The former drainage field may have been filled a century ago, but Buchanan said stormwater still flows toward the Badger Sheet Metal property, which remains prone to flooding.
To meet the site’s drainage needs, Buchanan said the city intends to develop a “green infrastructure corridor” to retain and filter stormwater.
“This will make the area more resilient to flooding and capture some of the phosphorus and sediment from entering the Fox River,” Buchanan said.
The Green Corridor will also include a pedestrian walkway directly connecting the Seymour Park neighborhood west of Maple Street to the Shipyard Recreation Area.
Discussions continue over potential affordable housing plans at Badger Sheet Metal site
The city and affordable housing developer Impact Seven continue to discuss plans to develop 238 apartments on the Badger Sheet Metal site.
A term sheet approved last year outlined the Rice Lake developer’s plans to build 98 one-bedroom, 116 two-bedroom and 24 three-bedroom units at the site. Some of the units will be reserved for households earning less than the area median income.
The city and Impact Seven have yet to finalize a development agreement that would outline city and developer commitments to make the project come to fruition.