Updated: Friday, 30 Jul 2010, 3:20 PM CDT
Published : Thursday, 29 Jul 2010, 12:34 PM CDT
GREEN BAY - The construction of two new affordable housing developments on University Avenue and Morrow Street in Green Bay will allow for the city's plans to renovate a historic downtown building.
"It's my home and it's been great and its going to be really hard to leave,” said resident Tina Melotte.
About 150 low income seniors and disabled people live in the Port Plaza Towers, but not for much longer. City leaders plan to restore it to the historic hotel it once was.
“Some people will say we have a lot of hotel rooms. Sure but do we have the right hotel rooms? There's a call from conventioneers, people and they're going to support this renovated first class hotel,” said Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt.
The Hotel Northland opened in 1924. For more than 50 years it hosted elegant parties, banquets and visiting NFL teams. Schmitt believes it can once again be not only a place to stay, but a social center for the downtown.
“That is going to be the place in Northeast Wisconsin to hold a local event,” said Schmitt.
The mayor says a number of developers have looked at the property, but we asked him where the money will come from.
“We're convinced there's a market for that property. We have to look at that and it takes time to get the financing together but we're confident with the right developer and the participation from WHEDA we can bring this to fruition in 2011-2012,” said Schmitt.
The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority helped secure about 25 million dollars in tax credits to build the new homes. Schmitt expects it will cost about the same to restore the hotel... but WHEDA could again step in.
“We know something about hotels, we have the means to help finance hotels,” said WHEDA executive director Antonio Riley.
As construction continued across town, people filled the former hotel's Crystal Ballroom to pay tribute to the historic landmark.
“They're building this neighborhood back up again. That's going to be good, and getting more decent affordable housing in another spot is also going to be good,” said resident Robert Neely.
“It's going to be a lot nicer, but it's still the move and it's going to be hard, it's still change,” Melotte said.
With the wheels already turning on the project... It's only a matter of time before change will happen.
The owners of Port Plaza Towers tell FOX 11 they will pay the moving expenses for the residents.