GREEN BAY - The construction of two new affordable housing developments onUniversity Avenue and Morrow Street in Green Bay will allow for thecity's plans to renovate a historic downtown building.
"It's my home and it's been great and its going to be reallyhard to leave,” said resident Tina Melotte.
About 150 low income seniors and disabled people live in thePort Plaza Towers, but not for much longer. City leaders plan torestore it to the historic hotel it once was.
“Some people will say we have a lot of hotel rooms. Surebut do we have the right hotel rooms? There's a call fromconventioneers, people and they're going to support this renovatedfirst class hotel,” said Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt.
The Hotel Northland opened in 1924. For more than 50 years ithosted elegant parties, banquets and visiting NFL teams. Schmittbelieves it can once again be not only a place to stay, but asocial center for the downtown.
“That is going to be the place in Northeast Wisconsin tohold a local event,” said Schmitt.
The mayor says a number of developers have looked at theproperty, but we asked him where the money will come from.
“We're convinced there's a market for that property. Wehave to look at that and it takes time to get the financingtogether but we're confident with the right developer and theparticipation from WHEDA we can bring this to fruition in2011-2012,” said Schmitt.
The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority helpedsecure about 25 million dollars in tax credits to build the newhomes. Schmitt expects it will cost about the same to restore thehotel... but WHEDA could again step in.
“We know something about hotels, we have the means to helpfinance hotels,” said WHEDA executive director AntonioRiley.
As construction continued across town, people filled the formerhotel's Crystal Ballroom to pay tribute to the historiclandmark.
“They're building this neighborhood back up again. That'sgoing to be good, and getting more decent affordable housing inanother spot is also going to be good,” said resident RobertNeely.
“It's going to be a lot nicer, but it's still the move andit's going to be hard, it's still change,” Melotte said.
With the wheels already turning on the project... It's only amatter of time before change will happen.
The owners of Port Plaza Towers tell FOX 11 they will pay themoving expenses for the residents.
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