Public Input Needed for Pulaski Printery Project

Share YOUR feedback on the Franciscan Publishers Building Project – it takes less than 5 minutes!

Volunteers representing local businesses and the Pulaski community came together on Tuesday, March 21st at Pulaski Area Community Education District Offices for an engaged discussion on how a vacant downtown building could be revitalized. The three story, 65,000 SF building facing E. Pulaski Street has made an impression on the streetscape of downtown Pulaski since the 1930s. Over the past eight decades, the property has served as an active printery, meeting space for the Assumption BVM order, and as a dormitory for members of the Franciscan order. Renewed interest in the property spurred conversations in 2016 between community leaders and the Franciscans.

Attendees at the March 21 Public Input Meeting

The property, while in good condition, does face development challenges. The former industrial space is not ADA accessible, and it likely will require some environmental remediation. The Franciscans have no immediate use for the property and are interested in seeing what redevelopment opportunities may be available. Members of the Pulaski Printery Steering Committee see a vibrant opportunity with the Franciscan Publishers building. Historic restoration and adaptive reuse projects have surged in recent years in Wisconsin since Act 62 was adopted in 2013, expanding state tax credits for qualifying historic preservation projects. The unique size, layout and location of this building on the downtown strip offer a unique combination of opportunities to restore a landmark building in the community, and hopefully, find prospective uses that will both bring economic value to the Pulaski community and services that benefit residents of all ages. A group of volunteers on the Steering Committee visited a project with some parallels in Wisconsin Rapids last fall.

Some Volunteers from the Pulaski Printery Steering Committee in Wisconsin Rapids, 2016

Brown County Board Supervisor Mark Becker, representing District 26 (Pittsfield, Pulaski and Howard), has been an ardent supporter of potential reuse of the property. Supervisor Becker worked with fellow Supervisors and County Executive Troy Streckenbach to announce a potential move and expansion of the current Pulaski branch of the Brown County Library system into the Pulaski Printery. The Brown County Library is the first potential tenant to express interest in occupying the building and this move is contingent on approximately $300,000 being raised locally to match the County’s contribution to the expansion. This move would bring updated and larger library facilities to Pulaski – a high value for a community which has the highest library visitation rates per capita in the library system at their neighborhood branch.

The March 21st meeting fed off of the momentum from the Brown County Library announcement this past fall, and offered an opportunity for community members to share ideas about uses they would like to see in the building. While Pulaski Printery Steering Committee members cannot guarantee what developers may have interest in pursuing, they feel that community involvement such as this sheds light on community needs, desires and value adds that would make redevelopment of the property more appealing to community members. Some of the ideas with the highest level of interest included a fitness/recreation center (potentially including workout facilities, bowling alley), library branch, Polish heritage center, youth-centered after school hangout, new home for the Pulaski Historical Society, and a rentable commercial kitchen space for local home-based food producers.

Exact costs related to restoration and renovation are use-specific, so it is difficult to pinpoint an exact figure for what the 65,000 SF building may cost in whole, but it is estimated that costs could rise upward of $3.5 million to return the building to a tenant-ready “white box” condition. On the flip side, demolition of the building would easily cost $400,000, and would have the ramification of losing a priceless historic landmark in the community. In order for this project to successfully be developed, a mix of tenants that are revenue generating would hopefully accommodate some community-centered uses that are non-revenue generating, or non-market rate lease generating, such as a library or non-profit leased space.

Participants from a 2016 Pulaski Visioning Session

The Pulaski Printery Steering Committee will host a second and final public input session on Tuesday, April 18th from 6:30-8:00 PM at Pulaski Area Community Education District Offices. At this meeting, committee members will continue the discussion about prospective uses as well as gain valuable market insights about where people make their purchases presently and estimate the amount of money spent on said purchases. For example, if a commercial kitchen is in high demand in initial discussions, a follow up question would ask interested users if they lease space in a commercial kitchen presently, how much they spend for such a rental, and where they are traveling to in order to rent said space.

Interested community members can participate in this market survey here (takes less than 5 minutes) in advance of the April 18th meeting. The Pulaski Printery Committee hopes that community members will turn out in force on April 18th and share their views and ideas with their neighbors.

Meeting details:

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Pulaski Area Community Education District Offices (Glenbrook Elementary School)

6:30 – 8:00 PM

FREE and open to the public, please bring a dish to pass if you are able to do so.

RSVP to: Allyson Watson, Allyson.Watson@ces.uwex.edu, 920-659-0379