It's not unusual for a mayor to be bullish about his city. But Kenosha's John Antaramian, who usually takes a cautious approach to matters of governance, is describing the downtown area as on the verge of an explosion of tantalizing growth.
No fewer than four developers are in the process of analyzing prospects for various retail, office and housing combinations, according to Antaramian. What's more, the city has recently completed bringing under its control the parcel of land at Sheridan Rd. and 56th St. that's earmarked for a new municipal building. That's significant in part because a new city hall would enable the demolition of the existing one, freeing up for development what's described as the prime piece of downtown real estate.
These developments come as work continues on two existing buildings that are slated to become boutique hotels and restaurants and a third building--the former downtown YMCA--which is being turned into apartments.
"I don't think you've even scratched the surface on what's going to happen," Antaramian told WGTD's Len Iaquinta during the taping of next Saturday's Community Matters.
Instead of offering a timetable, Antaramian puts it this way: "Once the first of these things actually happens, I think you're going to see a huge change in the downtown."
The city has aided the process in part by acquiring key pieces of property and putting them in reserve for future development. The list includes a pair of large buildings that were once department stores. Several of the acquisitions have been demolished, further readying the property.
Another interesting angle is the relationship between development along I-94 and Kenosha's downtown. As parcels along the interstate get swallowed up and earmarked for commercial and industrial uses, potential housing-related reuses for downtown sites are starting to look increasingly desirable to developers as housing remains in relative short supply, according to Antaramian. New multi-story housing downtown means greater population density, which can spur more retail, he says.